Governor Murphy Defends New Jersey Mask Mandate for Toddlers in Daycare

Photo: (Photo : Ina FASSBENDER / AFP)

New Jersey has imposed a mask mandate for toddlers in daycare centers, along with the staff and parents. Despite the criticisms, Gov. Phil Murphy has defended the order, saying that it's based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.

In a press briefing, Murphy said that the decision to require kids in the ages of two years old above to wear a mask inside public places doesn't bring his government any joy. However, if this will keep people "as safe and as healthy as possible," then the state will follow the health guidelines, as what neighboring states have done.

Dr. Christina Tan, the state epidemiologist, said the risk of transmission is higher among the unvaccinated. New Jersey's Department of Health has been monitoring cases of young victims, some of whom have died from COVID-19. Thus, they are recommending a mask mandate for toddlers to minimize the virus spread in the community.

Read AlsoCoronavirus Pfizer Vaccine for Children Age 5 to 11 Shows Safe and 'Robust' Antibody Response

Not Advised by WHO

However, Sen. Kristin Corrado has written Murphy about the mask mandate and cited that the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend mandating kids below five years old to mask up. She also asked about any data citing daycare centers are high transmission sites to justify the reason for the order.

Sen. Holly Schepisi, along with other parents, expressed their resistance to the mandate because they believe it is harmful to young kids who might not even keep the face mask on.

"As a mother, I had a hard enough time keeping a diaper on my kids at that age," the senator said.

But Dr. Steven Tobias, a psychologist at the Center for Child and Family Development, said that his grandson in daycare has gradually desensitized from wearing a face mask that he sometimes forgets to take it off. The doctor said it would be pointless to keep the mask on if the child becomes resistant, so he advised parents to remove it before this happens.

To convince young kids to mask up, parents might need to discuss how special masks are. It might even help to make a big deal about getting the child his own protective covering. Under any circumstances, parents should never force their toddlers to wear masks.

New York Mask Mandates for Toddlers

Meanwhile, New Jersey's neighbor, New York, has also issued a mask mandate at daycare centers but business owners slammed the decision because it could force facilities to shut down. According to Fox News, some parents have pulled out their kids from daycare, and more could follow if the policy won't change.

Michelle Smith of the TLC Adventures in Child Care said that the mandate does not make sense as toddlers will not comply. Parents are also upset that Gov. Kathy Hochul took the decision from the parents as they are forced to comply.

Both New Jersey and New York's vaccination rate is at 63 percent (fully vaccinated), way above the U.S.'s general population of 55.6 percent (fully vaccinated).

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