- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 5, 2020

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy on Sunday said the nation needs a nationwide strategy to deal with the coronavirus as flare-ups in the South and West imperil the progress his state made after getting slammed earlier this year.

Over 13,000 people died from the coronavirus in New Jersey, making it the hardest-hit place after New York. The Garden State managed to slash its positivity rate and get to a much better place, but travelers are bringing the virus back with them from places like Florida and Myrtle Beach, the Democratic governor told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“To me, it says we need a national strategy. We’re only as strong as our weakest link right now,” he said.

He said a nationwide strategy starts with a mask requirement for all Americans.

“It’s become almost not even debatable. Certainly when you’re going out and absolutely indoors,” Mr. Murphy said. “This virus is a lot more lethal inside than outside, but if you’re leaving your house, put on a mask. I think it ought to be a national, a national requirement.”

Mr. Murphy pumped the brakes last week on plans to allow indoor dining again in his state, citing bad experiences in states that reopened first.

The governor said he has “nothing but sympathy” for outraged restaurant owners who are facing economic ruin because of the pandemic.

“Believe me and it’s why we need direct federal cash assistance to states so that we can help those restaurants and small businesses out,” he said.

But, he said, the state can’t afford to take the risk right now.

“We literally lose lives,” he said. “When you combine indoors, lack of ventilation, sedentary, close proximity, and by definition, you have to take your mask off to eat — those are bad facts and we’re just not there yet. We’ll get there I hope, but we’re not ready for it.”

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