1 year of COVID — NJ residents ‘can’t wait for this to be over’
On March 4, 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy announced the Garden State's first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus.
One year later, the daily count of cases continues to climb, capacity limits persist for indoor businesses, and residents are still urged, and in some cases required, to mask up and keep a safe distance from others.
For some folks, the past 365 days have flown by. For others, the year of COVID-19 has crawled. At the same time, many residents don't exactly know how to describe the past 12 months, or handle the fact that it's March once again and the health threat is far from over.
"It's been the longest, yet fastest year of my life," said Erika Madsen, of Totowa.
"Some days I'm so surprised it's been a year, and other days it feels like it's been five," said Manalapan resident Laura Teener.
Teener said she's learned to enjoy "quiet time" by herself, but she's still waiting anxiously for a return to "going out and enjoying company other than the TV."
"I can't wait for this to be over; I hope it's soon," she said.
Officials are banking on the distribution of coronavirus vaccines to bring New Jersey closer to a reality of less risk and fewer restrictions. Murphy hopes to see a vaccination rate of at least 70% among the state's eligible adult population.
One unknown is the potential impact from new coronavirus strains that may not be as vulnerable to the vaccinations that are currently available.
"I'm extremely frustrated because I feel like this past year I've taken all the necessary precautions to prevent COVID, while so many others have not," said Jane Matthews, of Brick.
"A year into COVID, I would say that I'm really confused," added Brick resident Bud Adams. "I don't know what's safe anymore. I'm very eager to just get back to normal life."
Since March 2020, the state has recorded close to 800,000 positive coronavirus tests, and 23,449 confirmed and probable deaths. On Wednesday, Murphy announced that more than 1,900 individuals were currently in the hospital with COVID-related issues.