After 19 months of ups and downs, Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday he's not surprised that people in New Jersey are feeling stressed and depressed.

"We’ve all been asked to deal with a lot, and at times we have all felt overwhelmed. It’s OK to not be OK. Help is available to anyone who wants it."

Murphy said any New Jersey resident can call 866-202-HELP or text NJHOPE to 51684 to speak with trained counselors for free.

Murphy acknowledged the past year and a half has been difficult but he’s staying positive.

"I’m doing fine. I try to exercise, eat right, read a little bit every day in a book, watch a ballgame when I can," he said. "Every time you think you’ve got this thing figured out it takes a turn, and 8 out of 10 of those turns are for the negative."

When the pandemic began in March 2020, many New Jersey residents believed the health emergency would only last a couple of weeks.

Soon it became apparent that would not be the case, but by late spring of last year hospitalizations had started dropping, many businesses were allowed to reopen with capacity restrictions and there was renewed hope the COVID pandemic would soon end.

Then the second wave hit about a year ago and hospitalizations began rising again and by January of this year there were dire predictions about another possible health care crisis on the horizon.

That didn’t materialize. In fact, new COVID cases and hospitalizations dropped way down this past spring, but now, even with more than 5.7 million New Jerseyans fully vaccinated, they’re rising again.

"We’ve gotten through so much by leaning on each other, we’ve got a little ways yet to go, but we will get there, and we’ll get there as one New Jersey family," Murphy said.

For the deaf and hard of hearing, free and confidential mental help assistance in American sign language is available through a partnership with Access deaf services at Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson.

The video phone number is 973-870-0677, and the service is available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at

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LOOK: Here are the pets banned in each state

Because the regulation of exotic animals is left to states, some organizations, including The Humane Society of the United States, advocate for federal, standardized legislation that would ban owning large cats, bears, primates, and large poisonous snakes as pets.

Read on to see which pets are banned in your home state, as well as across the nation.

The best outdoor beer gardens at NJ breweries

There are more options than ever for enjoying a Garden State crafted beer in an outdoor setting.

New Jersey tied for first place (with Kentucky) with 43% growth in the craft beer scene from 2015 to 2019, according to C+R Research.

The following is a roundup of breweries around the state with scenic, dedicated outdoor seating as weather allows.

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