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New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is catching heat for taking an eight-day Christmas vacation in Costa Rica despite the State Department warning travelers to “reconsider” visiting there due to COVID-19 and as the case count surges in his own state.
Murphy, vice chair of the National Governors Association, called in from Costa Rica to President Biden’s COVID-19 response meeting with the nation’s governors on Monday, where he received a “thank you” from the president before the meeting was closed to the public.
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Murphy and his wife left the country on Dec. 22 and are due back this Thursday, while Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver serves as acting governor.
Phil Murphy, governor of New Jersey, exits after speaking during an election night event in Asbury Park, New Jersey, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021. (Getty)
Murphy was asked last week about whether the trip was appropriate, given that his state is seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases with a seven-day-average case count of 14,405.
“We’re going to spend some time together as a family,” the governor responded, NJ.com reported. “Please God, we need that.”
Murphy has come under fire for his actions several times over the course of the pandemic. In August, he was blasted by Republicans, including by his predecessor, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for setting the “wrong message” after jetting off to Italy for a 10-day vacation as the delta variant of the coronavirus surged in the state.
When the coronavirus first started to rage across the country in March 2020, Murphy defended keeping armed guards for his personal protection while closing “non-essential” gun shops.
“It is what it is,” he said at the time.
A few months later, Murphy defended himself for attending a George Floyd protest, saying he “can’t imagine what it would look like if we told people, ‘You have to ignore systemic racism, just stay inside.'” He lifted his stay-at-home orders just two days later.
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., at the time a Democrat, is seen in the Capitol during procedural votes related to the articles of impeachment on Dec. 18, 2019. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Rep. Jeff Van Drew, R-N.J., who was a Democrat until December of last year, told Fox News Digital in a statement that he finds Murphy’s trip to Costa Rica hypocritical.
“Governor Murphy defying orders, even his own, is nothing new,” the congressman said. “He has left the state of New Jersey on personal trips multiple times during the pandemic, yet continuously imposes mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and virtual school is now back on the table.”
“If Governor Murphy can travel out of the country when the State Department urges the American people to stay put, Americans should be afforded the same discretion regarding their personal health choices just like our leaders,” he continued. “It is fitting that President Biden escapes his responsibilities by traveling to a Delaware beach house after saying responses to COVID-19 should be left to the states, and then Governor Murphy runs off to a Costa Rican beach.”
Gov. Phil Murphy casts his vote at the Arts and Cultural Center in Long Branch, New Jersey on Oct. 23, 2021. (John Jones /NJ Advance Media via AP)
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The New Jersey Republican Party also highlighted Murphy’s trip on Twitter.
Murphy’s office declined to comment when reached by Fox News Digital.