NJ set to end public health emergency after 15 months of fighting COVID

New Jersey

FILE – In this May 19, 2020, file photo, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy wears a mask during his daily coronavirus news conference at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J. A year after becoming a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, New York and New Jersey are back atop the list of U.S. states with the highest rates of infection. Murphy said in recent days that he is hitting pause on further loosening of the rules because of New Jersey’s resurgence. (Chris Pedota/The Record via AP, Pool)

NEW JERSEY — More than a year ago, with under a dozen cases of coronavirus reported in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy declared a state of emergency; he’s set to end the public health emergency Friday.

There have been 888,288 confirmed COVID-19 cases in New Jersey over the course of the 15-month battle against the pandemic. More than 23,000 have died.

Lawmakers on Thursday passed legislation enabling the end of the public health emergency.

“Ending New Jersey’s COVID-19 Public Health Emergency is one of the most significant steps we have taken in our recovery efforts to date,” Gov. Murphy said in a joint statement with Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. “With our state’s public health metrics continuing to trend decisively in the right direction, we are confident that now is the right time to take this action, particularly as the final limits on gatherings are lifted tomorrow.”

The upcoming end of the public health emergency does not mean the fight against the pandemic is over, officials said.

“This legislation ensures that the Administration has the tools and flexibility necessary to continue vaccination and testing efforts, ensure protections for vulnerable populations, and oversee and coordinate the health care system to address this ongoing threat,” Murphy, Sweeney and Coughlin said.

Dozens of executive orders “that relied on the existence of the public health emergency” would end 30 days after Murphy signs the bill into law.

However, under the bill, Murphy would have the power to extend or revoke 14 other executive orders through Jan. 1, 2022.

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