Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey held his final coronavirus briefing on Friday, when he announced that he would lift the state’s public health emergency next week, a significant moment for a state that was an early epicenter of the virus.
The public health emergency, which Mr. Murphy reinstated in January in response to a surge in cases fueled by the Omicron variant, will end on Monday. That is the same day that the state will lift its mandatory masking policy in schools and day care facilities. The masking requirement was the last major mitigation strategy left in place, Mr. Murphy said.
The decision to end his press briefings, as well as the mask mandates and the public health order, represent the state’s transition toward treating the coronavirus as a part of daily life as daily case rates and hospitalizations continue to decline, Mr. Murphy said.
“The time has come to move toward normalcy,” Mr. Murphy said.
The governor had announced last month that he was aiming to drop these pandemic measures this week as long as Covid trends remained on a downward trajectory, and they have. As of Friday, the 14-day average of new coronavirus cases was down by 38 percent, according to a New York Times database. And the 14-day average number of new patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in New Jersey was down by 42 percent.
Friday’s briefing was two years to the day since the state’s first confirmed coronavirus case, Mr. Murphy said, and served as a fitting end to his pandemic updates. Over the past two years, Mr. Murphy has held 257 briefings and fielded more than 6,200 questions from reporters.