Murphy may have no choice but to reopen the state.

If you needed more evidence of the urgent need to reopen New Jersey, you need to look no farther than the latest jobs report. The state Department of Labor reports new jobless claims are up 17%: 12,322 new claims were filed last week.

To date, the state says 2.14 million claims have been filed since Gov. Phil Murphy shut down the economy more than a year ago. $27.3 billion in unemployment benefits have been paid out.

With New Jersey having among the highest vaccination rates in the nation and the COVID-19 rate of transmission at the lowest it has been in eight months, Murphy is finally signaling a possible return to normal. At a news conference in Newark on Thursday, Murphy was asked about the rate of transmission dropping to .72. He said if the numbers continue to trend in this direction, "we're gonna open this sucker up wide."

Murphy refused to provide a timeline, but said, "You're going to see us accelerating the opening of the state."

New announcements could come as early as Monday, although Murphy's office hyped a "big announcement" this past Monday, but failed to deliver the news many have been waiting for.

The jump in unemployment claims comes as a new study shows the devesting impact of the pandemic on New Jersey's economy. The FocusNJ report finds 3 in 10 small businesses have failed. Half of all leisure and hospitality jobs have been lost. That's more than 200,000 jobs.

With the summer tourism season about to kick off, New Jersey businesses are clamoring to get operating at full capacity again. Adding to the tourism worries is the announcement that New York City will drop all pandemic restrictions on July 1 and is making plans for a big tourism rebound. If restrictions remain in New Jersey, the shore businesses who depend on a few summer months to make their entire year fear they will not survive.

Among Northeast governors, Phil Murphy has been among the slowest to relax pandemic restrictions. Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York and Connecticut have all eased restrictions far beyond what Murphy has allowed. Connecticut has, and now NYC, are ending all restrictions. With the prospect of tourists, and a good number of New Jersey residents, heading out of state — and taking their summer vacation dollars with them — is frightening to businesses barely hanging on.

 

For months, Murphy has said once the state reached the vaccination of 70% of the adult population, it would trigger a full reopening. With nearly 7 million vaccine doses having been given out, there is virtually no chance that goal is not reached by Memorial Day.

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LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.