Gov. Murphy holds 257th and final COVID-19 briefing; honors those who died
After two years and more than 250 appearances, Gov. Phil Murphy held his final COVID-19 briefing from the Trenton War Memorial on Friday.
The briefing was held two years to the day that the first case of COVID-19 was reported in New Jersey. The governor says that hosting what he hopes to be the final briefing is a sign that the pandemic has transitioned to an endemic.
“We have the whole band together for what we hope is a final encore,” Murphy said. “It is the right time. We have asked so much of each and every New Jerseyan for the past two years.”
State officials held 257 COVID-19 briefings and fielded 6,200 questions from the media. It was at these briefings that Murphy revealed hundreds of hours of COVID numbers, executive order announcements and other pandemic-related issues.
“I know you are exhausted, both mentally and physically, and ready to return to normal. Let there be no doubt so are we,” Murphy said.
But officials cautioned the public to not let their guard down because the virus still remains a threat.
“It doesn't mean we're putting out a sign that says ‘Mission accomplished’ and the virus is gone and that's not going to cause us any issues or problems down the road,” said Dr. Ed Lifshitz. “We’re in an incredibly better position than we were two years ago.”
“We followed the science, and made decisions based on data and always through an equity lens,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
But the pandemic left over 30,000 New Jersey residents dead in its wake. The governor became overcome with emotion for the first time while talking about the more than 600 condolence calls he made to families who lost loved ones.
“We honor each and every single one, hard to believe, of the more than 30,000 lives we've lost. So for all of them, let's do one final moment of silence,” Murphy said.
The governor also took the time to thank his staff and the sign language interpreters who worked at every briefing.
“Who assure that every New Jerseyan - not most, but every New Jerseyan – could be part of this process,” Murphy said.
The governor ordered an end to the state's public health emergency effective Monday. That's the same day the in-school mask mandate goes away. The general state of emergency for COVID remains in place. It was first issued on March 9, 2020, and could remain in place for some time. The state of emergency for Hurricane Sandy is still in place, almost ten years later.