On the same day New Jersey announced the highest total of new COVID cases since the start of the pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy left the state.

Murphy and his family left Wednesday for an eight-day vacation in Costa Rica. The governor was clearly happy about the vacation and looking forward to getting out of New Jersey. “Please God, we need that," Murphy said of his trip.

The governor's office confirmed the trip to NJ.com.

While most New Jersey residents were forced to cancel vacation, or any travel, during the pandemic, Murphy and his family have left for extended getaways three times since the pandemic began in March of 2020.

In August, Murphy drew criticism for leaving the state for an extended stay at his posh Italian villa. He and his family then spent part of the Thanksgiving Holiday in Orlando, Florida.

Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver will be acting governor until Murphy returns on Dec. 30.

On Monday, Murphy wished New Jerseyans a "great holidays" and put in another plug to get vaccinated and boosted. "Please God, get vaccinated, get boosted, and be smart," Murphy said.

With Murphy leaving the state, it is unlikely any new or mandates will be announced until the New Year. He has resisted, to this point, any new restrictions.

"We think what we have in place meets the moment," Murphy said at a COVID briefing on Dec. 14, but then quickly added "all options remain on the table", including an indoor mask mandate.

A growing number of municipalities have announced their own indoor mask mandates as they await further guidance from the Murphy administration.

Murphy's existing pandemic powers and executive orders will expire in January, but he revealed earlier this month that he is in talks with legislative leaders to extend those powers and executive orders for at least another 90-days. "We need to take certain steps," Murphy said, but did not say what those would be.

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