By Chris Rivera
The following retrospective has been written by a resident of Middletown, New Jersey. It recollects both the state’s journey and his personal experience.
On March 21st, the state of New Jersey surpassed 1,000 total cases of COVID. That day, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy issued a statement regarding the situation and prepared to fight back against the spread. Acknowledging these alarming numbers, Governor Murphy decided the best move was ordering a stay-at-home order upon the more than 9 million residents of the state. All New Jersey residents were directed to stay at home and all non-essential businesses were ordered to remain closed until the Governor declared otherwise.
I remember I was driving to the grocery store when I got a phone call saying that I needed to return home as soon as possible. At that moment, the reality of the situation hit me. Murphy said in the briefing, “these numbers, the positive results, are no cause for panic, but they are a sobering reminder of the challenge we are confronting as one New Jersey family.” For myself, the words from Governor Murphy were reassuring. Life would resume once the virus was eliminated. But what I did not know was how long we had to continue to live restricted lives with COVID looming over us.
Going into the summer, the number of cases steadily declined and the lockdown was lifted in the beginning of June. However, the life we knew a few months ago would not return during the summer. Businesses and stores would continue to have mandatory mask signs outside and restaurants would restrict in-door dining. Beaches and amusement parks placed a capacity on the number of individuals allowed in. COVID didn’t care how much we wanted a care-free summer; we still needed to live our lives under its grasp.
Unfortunately, the cases in New Jersey started to pick up again in the fall. It’s now December, and just earlier this month we had over 6,000 new cases of COVID in a single day. Public gatherings have been restricted; restaurants need to close earlier; cases and hospitalizations have been trending in worrying directions. Numerous amounts of businesses have closed due to the financial impact of COVID.
Through it all, one thing New Jersey has never done is lost hope. But while the residents of New Jersey are strong, I can confidently say that this year has been hard for all of us, and we are eager to close this deadly chapter. Fortunately, with the vaccine now steadily being administered to many New Jersey residents and Americans, we see the light at the end of the tunnel.