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NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — On March 4, 2020, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy received word that the state recorded its first case of COVID-19. He recalled the day Friday, exactly two years later, during what he said is his last in-person COVID-19 briefing.

“This anniversary is the right time for us to end these in-person briefings,” he said. “As coronavirus moves from pandemic to endemic and as we transition away from crisis management to a more normal way of life, it is the right time.”

In addition to confirming the Garden State’s mask mandate for schools would end March 7, Murphy also said he’d end the state’s Public Health Emergency the same day. The Public Health Emergency was issued amid a surge caused by the omicron variant of the virus. During the January surge, hospitalizations in New Jersey blew past previous records set earlier in the pandemic.

According to the CDC’s new Community Level tool, all New Jersey counties fall between “low” and “medium” community spread.

“I know you are exhausted and ready to return to normal, and so are we,” Murphy said, noting the perseverance of all New Jersey residents helped battle the pandemic.

The state recorded 708 COVID-related hospitalizations Thursday, and the statewide positivity rate fell to 1.94% Friday. Additionally, Murphy reported a “steady” climb in vaccinations and boosters, with 92.02% of Garden State residents having received at least one dose.

As the state’s numbers wind down and residents look toward a return to normal, Murphy concluded his section of this final briefing by leaning on a phrase he’s relied on to guide New Jersey: “Don’t be a knucklehead.”