Gov. Murphy: Hope is on the horizon as New Jersey marks 1 year of pandemic

Today marks one year since the first COVID-19 case was identified in New Jersey.
As the state passes 2 million COVID-19 vaccinations, Gov. Phil Murphy says that hope is on the horizon.
“It’s been one hell of a year. There’s no other way to put it,” Murphy said at his COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday.
New Jersey has reported around 800,000 positive cases of the coronavirus over the past year, along with more than 20,000 deaths. April 2020 peaked at more than 8,000 COVID patients in the hospital.
The governor reflected on the past year at what he said was his 170th COVID-19 briefing.
“Because of our actions last March and the sacrifice of all our residents, the crippling worst-case scenarios we feared for our hospitals, the numbers that would have essentially broken our health care system, did not come to pass,” Murphy said.
When Murphy gave his last coronavirus briefing before his pre-scheduled cancer surgery, it was March 2, 2020. New Jersey had not yet seen a single case of the virus. But officials admitted at the time that the virus could be coming.
“I would not be surprised if that happened,” Murphy said at the time. “I don’t think we would be shocked if that were to happen.”
The first case in New Jersey was reported on March 4, 2020.
“I for one will not easily forget that date. I had only recently come out of the recovery room following surgery earlier that day to have a tumor removed when I read the first text I read informing me of this news,” Murphy said.
The administration is still facing criticism for the deaths of nearly 8,000 nursing home residents and staff.
“We have been explicit in our instructions to the long-term care facilities. Are there bad actors who didn’t follow them? I’m sure there may have been. And they deserve to pay a price for that if that’s the case,” Murphy said.
But now with three COVID-19 vaccines available, Murphy said that he is looking forward to a turning point for the virus around Easter.
“We will be in a dramatic, quantumly different place,” Murphy said, adding that he expects some type of normalcy by Memorial Day. “One year in we can finally see the light of a new day beginning to break on the horizon. We cannot yet bask in that light, but make no mistake, we will.”
Heath Commissioner Judith Persichilli said that there is an uptick in cases in northwest New Jersey that indicates high coronavirus activity there.