Pennacchio Blasts Murphy’s Mask Mandate for 2-Year-Olds

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MORRIS COUNTY — Governor Phil Murphy’s latest COVID directive requiring children two years and older to wear masks in childcare centers drew the ire of Senator Joe Pennacchio, who called the order “useless and unworkable.”

“Every parent who has ever tried to get a photo of their two-year-old in a Halloween mask knows this rule is futile,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “When you put any covering on a 2-year-olds’ face, they instinctively grab it and pull it off.

“The Governor knows this. He knows his mandate is impossible to accomplish and impossible to enforce.”

The mask requirement was included in an executive order signed by Murphy on Monday giving workers at daycare centers five weeks to be fully vaccinated for COVID or face weekly testing for the virus.

“This is the latest of a long list of edicts that haven’t made any sense,” Pennacchio said. “Masks were required for outdoor visitors to the beaches and state parks, and restaurants were forced to close at 10:00 p.m. as if the virus became more contagious later in the night. Prisons were opened up while orders sealed the virus among the elderly and frail in nursing homes with devastating effects. And now two-year-olds crawling around behind masks. None of this ever made any sense.

“Daycare workers are going to spend all day changing dirty diapers and masks and chasing after kids who lost their masks,” Pennacchio said.

The Senator again questioned where is the science and data to support this type of edict.

Initial COVID studies last year showed that COVID had a minimal effect on young children. A Yale University study of more than 57,000 childcare centers in the U.S. determined that keeping facilities open does not contribute to the transmission of COVID.

A research review of 11 studies measuring virus transmission in child care and preschool settings determined “evidence suggests that early learning programs are not associated with increased risk of contracting COVID-19 when health and safety precautions are in place.”

Pennacchio noted that more recent studies continue to indicate that “young children are at low risk for developing COVID-19 but also don’t play a significant role in the spread” of the virus.

“Trying to force a room full of two- and three-year-olds to keep their masks on for the duration of the workday is a foolish waste of time,” said Pennacchio. “It’s just more nonsense from the front office in Trenton.”