All of this is just my opinion, of course, but I think even rational, science-minded New Jersey residents reached a tipping point with Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday.

All weekend his administration was teasing what they called a major reopening announcement for the state of New Jersey. He was to deliver this major announcement about reopening at 1 p.m. during his COVID press briefing.

It had so many of us thinking that we had reached a turning point. And it certainly had many restaurant owners hopeful that they could finally go above 50% for indoor seating. Perhaps finally allow people to sit back at the bar. Finally have a chance of doing more than just barely surviving.

I mean it would have made sense, right? If data truly were determining dates as has been said all along? The transmission rate a year ago was at a 5.0. That meant for every one person who had the virus five others would get it. In other words, it was spreading like wildfire. And we had no vaccine then, so no protection.

Again, the rational among us knew this was not a Democratic hoax, knew that this was a global pandemic that had come home to New Jersey, and that serious measures needed to be taken. For much of 2020, through the second wave, these measures were painful but made sense.

But now data shows the transmission rate is less than one. A .90 the day he made his disappointing major reopening announcement. That means the virus is not only not spreading like wildfire but is actually dying out. And it’s dying out at a time when millions of New Jerseyans have already chosen to be vaccinated and millions more have the opportunity now that supplies are abundant.

The seven-day rolling average is below 2,300 cases; lower than it’s been since November. Hospitalizations are down. All the metrics show that business owners should finally be given that miracle break they have been praying for.

But what was touted as a major reopening announcement fell embarrassingly flat. Absolutely no news for restaurants. Outdoor events could increase from 200 to 500 people. Outdoor venues with fixed seating could now go to 50% capacity. Indoor catered events could now go to 50% capacity or a maximum of 250 people. For large high schools, this doesn’t even cover a prom.

When I asked when he was willing to give up emergency powers through executive order recently, governor Murphy said he didn’t know. But even members of his own Democratic Party are starting to revolt. State Senate President Steve Sweeney has even called for an end to executive orders; to start conferring with legislators on these pandemic matters.

No, the people who claimed this was nothing more than a head cold or the flu a year ago were never right. No, the people who claim that nothing should have ever been shut down were never correct. And no, the people who refuse the reality that mask wearing is settled science in slowing the spread of COVID-19 were never responsible or reasonable.

But we have now reached a tipping point. With vaccines in plenty of supply and Americans who want to protect themselves able to do so there is no longer a scientific reason to be this draconian. At this point Murphy really needs to reassess his motives.

Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli had it right when he came on our show and talked about a reopening plan. He wants 100% capacities while still maintaining indoor safety protocols like masks but only until more people are vaccinated. And then off with the masks for good.

It turns out we were never all in this together. The hardcore radical right politicized this all along. Those who denied science would have killed far more people if left in charge. But those of us who respected the CDC and the World Health Organization and the true leading medical experts have been in this together. We sacrificed with a wartime effort rather than whining about masks and calling all this psyops. We dealt with a hard reality. We flattened the curve more than once. And we deserve better than what we were handed on Monday by Murphy.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.

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