New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli reflects on COVID pandemic, looks to future as an endemic

TRENTON, N.J. – It’s been two years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and in New Jersey, the state has confirmed 1.8 million COVID cases so far.

New Jersey is a very different place now. COVID cases continue to drop and residents have learned to live with the virus.

New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli joined CBS2’s Dana Tyler to look back at the past two years and ahead to the future.

COVID VACCINE

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Persichilli has led the state’s efforts against COVID-19, making it her mission to educate, vaccinate and get New Jersey boosted.

Tyler asked when officials realized how bad the pandemic was going to be.

«I would say, we had our first case March 4. We still felt that transmission was quite low. About two weeks after that, we did have an outbreak amongst family members at a gathering, and I think there were about 25 people at the gathering and 15 of them came down with COVID. And unfortunately, there were a number of deaths, I think it was up to five. That caused us a lot of pause here at the department and we really knew that we were dealing with something that was a lot more virulent that not only we understood or that the nation understood,» Persichilli said.

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

New Jersey is now beginning to ease restrictions as COVID transitions from pandemic to endemic, but Persichilli says that doesn’t mean we’re at the end.

«When disease becomes endemic, it gets to a lower level in a certain way that you can live with. We’re not quite there yet. Our mortalities are still a little bit higher than we would like … so we will hit a stage of endemicity, something we can live with,» she said.

You can watch the full interview above.


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