BERKELEY TOWNSHIP, NJ -- Gov. Phil Murphy called upon the federal government to mandate face coverings at the spread of COVID-19 surge across the Sun Belt.

Murphy said New Jersey is seeing a small spike in cases due to travelers coming into the Garden State from Florida and South Carolina during a Sunday morning interview on NBC's Meet the Press.

"This virus is a lot more lethal inside than outside. If you’re leaving your house, put on a mask," Murphy said during the interview. "I think it ought to be a national, a national requirement.”

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“This thing is lethal. New Jersey’s paid an enormous price,” Murphy said. “We went through hell. We cannot go through hell again. We need a national strategy right now and masking has to be at the core of that.”

Murphy, who spent part of the holiday weekend down the shore, reported 303 new COVID-19 cases and 25 new deaths in New Jersey via Twitter on Saturday. He went for a run on Sunday in Seaside Park with First Lady Tammy Murphy and reminded New Jerseyans: "When you’re out enjoying the Shore, remember: wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands."

New Jersey is in Phase Two of its road to reopening. In recent weeks,  Murphy has removed social distancing measures to allow for limited outdoor dining and in-store shopping. His cabinet laid the groundwork for schools to reopen in September. 

However, the governor did backtrack on a plan to resume limited indoor dining.

Florida, South Carolina and Arkansas are among the 16 states on a quarantine-on-arrival order for travelers that Murphy set up last week. 

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