New Jersey, the state with the second most number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country, experienced its first days with less than 1,000 new cases this week for the first time since March 25.
The state, which is planning to reopen in phases in the coming weeks, saw 798 new cases of the virus on Tuesday and 817 on Wednesday. On Thursday, however, 1,144 new cases were reported.
On March 25, the state reported 727 new cases, bringing its total then to just over 4,400. From there, the Garden State's number of daily COVID-19 cases skyrocketed, staying over 1,000 for roughly the next month and a half.
As of Friday, the state has almost 143,000 confirmed cases and nearly 10,000 deaths.
New Jersey's overall number of new cases for the week is down, and the daily number of cases has been trending downward, in general. This time last week the state had reported 9,918 new cases. This week, it's only 5,619.
The downward trend of weekly and daily cases is encouraging to state leaders, and this week Gov. Phil Murphy (D) outlined two parts of his phased reopening for the state.
On Wednesday, Murphy said that "non-essential construction, curbside pickup at non-essential retail businesses, and car gatherings for the purpose of drive-through and drive-in events," would be permitted to resume this coming Monday.
"I've been clear that data will determine dates, and what we are seeing gives us confidence that we can begin the careful restart of our economy," Murphy said. "Over the past eight weeks, New Jerseyans have taken our stay-at-home order seriously and have created the conditions that make this next phase possible. The steps we are taking allow for important standards of social distancing to continue with the return of safe, responsible business operations."
The governor further outlined his plan on Thursday, saying that the state's boardwalks, beaches, lakes and lakeshores would reopen next Friday, May 22, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Social distancing will still be enforced, however, and some parts of the waterfronts such as picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions and visitor centers will remain closed.
"I'm thrilled to announce that the Jersey Shore will be open to families across our state and region in a way that is consistent with protecting the public health of every beachgoer," Murphy said. "This action will ensure that New Jerseyans can enjoy our state's greatest natural resource ahead of the summer months."
New York and Connecticut, which together with New Jersey create a huge tri-state area, also announced that they would also be opening their beaches for Memorial Day with restrictions. The three states, because of their interdependency, have frequently worked together to implement similar policies throughout the pandemic.