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When will New Jersey leaders put an end to the COVID-19 chaos?

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To no one’s surprise, Gov. Phil Murphy once again used his executive powers to bypass the Legislature and declare another public health emergency. Despite lawmakers’ intent to end the governor’s school mask mandate, children as young as two will still be required to wear masks in daycares and schools. And once again, Murphy alone will have the final say in ordering vaccination guidelines, school closures and more lockdowns if he so chooses.

If the state of New Jersey really was in a health emergency, you’d think Murphy wouldn’t travel to Costa Rica for eight days like he did over the Christmas vacation. But let’s not let the hypocrisy of a tropical vacation get in the way of a politician striving for more power.

Regardless of your opinion on masks or mandates, it’s outrageous for the governor to constantly bypass an equal branch of government and ignore the constituents of New Jersey’s elected officials. After two years of COVID-19, we know that more government control is not the solution to keep our citizens healthier.

In fact, many of these solutions at both the state and federal levels are making things worse, especially for our children. It’s no surprise that half of New Jersey students fall behind in math in grades 4 through 6, and nearly one in three high school freshmen need help with English and language skills. Learning via laptop is no substitute for classroom instruction, and 18 months of Zoom school during Murphy’s lockdown has undoubtedly hurt students in New Jersey.

So have politicians learned from the mistakes they made at the expense of our children? Barely. Thanks to pressure from the powerful teachers’ union, the NJEA, the governor is still forcing children to wear masks in the classroom, severely affecting their ability to communicate and learn. This has absolutely nothing to do with science as we recently learned that the majority of masks worn offer little protection against the Omicron variant. The only exceptions are N-95s or high filtration respirators. The World Health Organization also recommends that children under the age of 5 should not wear masks.

We know that the 2020 Murphy-imposed lockdown was an economic disaster, resulting in the closure of nearly a third of New Jersey’s small businesses. Politicians have taken away our freedoms and livelihoods, but have not made us safer. But again, our political leaders have not learned from their costly mistakes, nor do they base their policies on science. case study? Vaccination regulations will have a similarly disruptive effect on our ailing workforce. President Joe Biden cannot continue to claim this is solely a pandemic of the unvaccinated when Dr. Anthony Fauci admits Omicron will infect “almost everyone” regardless of vaccination status. Discrimination against workers based on vaccination status is not only potentially illegal, but also illogical as you can easily catch COVID from someone who has been triple vaccinated.

In fact, this policy is not about science, it is about politics. Finally, after campaigning for the virus to be shut down in 2020, Biden admitted that there is “no federal solution” to ending COVID-19, noting that more Americans died in 2021 than in 2020. Though he did because of his hypocrisy was called, Biden is exactly right. The government cannot solve an airborne virus.

A masked man is reflected in a puddle along East Ridgewood Avenue in Ridgewood on Wednesday, January 5, 2022.

What the government can do is support medical research in the development of future cures and vaccines. Promising new antiviral drugs are now emerging, thanks to the biopharmaceutical industry, that will transform the way symptoms are managed and keep people out of the hospital. And encouragingly, scientists are now seeing signs that Omicron may have peaked in the UK and is now doing the same in the United States.

It is time to overcome failed COVID-19 policies that only serve politicians’ self-interest. More mandates, lockdowns, and discriminatory vaccination policies will only harm our children and our economy, and further divide us.

Rosemary Becchi

Rosemary Becchi, a congressional candidate, is the founder and president of Jersey 1st, a Morristown-based nonprofit founded with a mission to be a voice for the hard-working people of New Jersey.

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