TRENTON, N.J. — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy delivered his State of the State address Tuesday evening as the Garden State continued to grapple with another wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
For the second time since the pandemic began nearly two years ago, Murphy decided to forgo the traditional pomp and circumstance of the occasion, opting instead to deliver a prerecorded speech inside an empty theater.
“Our state remains on a war footing against a virus that has now taken on a new form. Omicron is doing its best to stop us in our tracks and push us back. We will not let it,” Murphy said.
Earlier Tuesday, Murphy renewed his Public Health Emergency and State of Emergency declarations regarding the state’s battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“COVID-19 remains a significant threat to our state and we must commit every resource available to beating back the wave caused by the omicron variant,” the governor said in a statement.
Extending the declarations will free up state resources and allow government agencies to cut through red tape, according to Murphy’s office. The governor said the new executive order wouldn’t change people’s everyday lives but will leave a school and day care mask mandate in place.
In addition to his pandemic recovery efforts, Murphy promised to not raise taxes in his next state budget and said he would sign a bill passed by the state Legislature that will codify a women’s right to access reproductive care. The governor also said he would push the state Legislature on “commonsense and comprehensive” gun safety reforms as well as address the burden of high property taxes for homeowners.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.