As the omicron surge continues to fade, new COVID cases and hospitalizations are rapidly trending downward in New Jersey, and there is talk about the end of the pandemic.

According to Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the director of communicable disease services for the New Jersey Health Department, the signs we’re seeing are good — with a caveat.

“if I told you I knew exactly what was going to be happening then I’d be lying," he said. "And neither does anybody else, is the straight truth of it.”

Is COVID here to stay?

He said nobody should expect COVID to simply stop circulating at some point.

“I think there will be other variants that will come. How bad will they be, again, anybody’s guess,” he said.

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Lifshitz pointed out “there is an upper limit as to how infectious something can become."

The delta variant was the predominant variant last summer and fall, but omicron quickly spread around the world and it now accounts for about 96% of all COVID infections.

A better place

He said what we do know is we are in a much better place now than we were two years ago.

“We know more about the virus, we have some excellent vaccines, we have a lot of immunity built up in the state, hospitals have learned how to treat patients better," he said.

Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday it’s too soon to start talking about the end of the pandemic being in sight.

(Craig Allen photo).
(Craig Allen photo).

“Please, God, I hope the answer is yes but I, unfortunately, will almost predict with certainty that we’re going to have to say we hope it is — but never say never with this thing,” he said.

He noted this is not the time for complacency because even though the COVID numbers are trending positively they are still higher than last winter.

The governor said he suspects people will eventually need to get annual COVID vaccines, similar to flu shots.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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