As New Jersey's COVID metrics fall to near pandemic lows, could Gov. Phil Murphy justify extending the current public health emergency?

Murphy signed the order on Jan. 11, after the state legislature refused to extend his pandemic powers for another 90 days.

As of Sunday, New Jersey's rate of transmission (r/t) had fallen to .54, indicating the wave of omicron variant infections was no longer actively spreading.

The number of new positive COVID tests announced by the state on Saturday was 1,625. Just three weeks ago, as many as 30,000 new tests were being reported daily.

Hospitalizations have dropped to 2,022 people either admitted for or with COVID infections.

While the CDC data tracker still lists all 21 New Jersey counties as having a high level of community transmission, it does show a continued drop in infection rates in all regions of the state.

Murphy announced the latest COVID metrics on twitter without comment.

Murphy's current public health emergency is due to expire at the end of this week. He refuses to say whether he will extend it.

Last week, Murphy said he was encouraged by falling COVID metrics, but worried about a potential rebound in infection rates and hospitalizations.

COVID metrics are at or below where they were before the omicron variant hit the Garden State. The spike in infections and hospitalizations was the justification used by Murphy to declare a new public health emergency.

The declaration allowed the governor to continue his controversial school mask mandate and to toughen the vaccine mandate for healthcare workers and corrections officers.

Bi-partisan legislation is being sponsored in Trenton to curb Murphy's pandemic powers, but it has yet to be scheduled for a hearing or a vote.

Murphy spoke with legislative leaders last week about pandemic restrictions, but no consensus was announced following those talks.

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