Is COVID-19 under control?

Murphy says it’s too early to claim victory, but says numbers are continuing to trend in right direction

Hospitalizations are under 900 — for almost a week. The rate of transmission continues to be under 1.0. The positivity rate in the state, as of Oct. 14, was under 4%.

Does this mean COVID-19 is under control?

That’s what Gov. Phil Murphy asked Judy Persichilli, the commissioner of the Department of Health, and Dr. Ed Lifshitz, the Communicable Disease Service medical director, during his COVID-19 briefing Monday.

“I don’t want to put you and Ed on the spot, (and it’s) far too early to claim victory, but the numbers feel like now they’re moving slowly but surely in a better direction, right?” he asked.

Claiming victory — in the face of the repeated variants that have appeared in the past 18 months — does seem premature.

The numbers, however, are undeniable.

Even Lifshitz — who said he was born to worry — said he had to admit things are looking good.

“I agree,” he said. “We’re clearly in a much better situation than we were last year. We’re clearly moving slowly, but correctly, in the right direction.

“We have a lot of stuff going in our favor. We do have vaccines, obviously increasing, throughout the population. We do have increasing immunity, we do have a population that knows the right things that they should be doing and for the most part goes ahead and follows those right things.

“Overall, you look across the country and see similar patterns. So that’s also in our favor.”

Lifshitz pointed out that the holidays will be tough. And that COVID fatigue is still there.

That being said …

“Without a doubt, we’re in much better shape than we were a year ago,” Lifshitz said. “And, hopefully, we continue in the right direction.”