On the cusp of last summer, as COVID vaccination rates were on the upswing and transmission rates were dropping, New Jersey officials talked excitedly about a return to normalcy, with offices filling with employees again and masks no longer required in schools. Then the delta variant emerged unexpectedly in June and upended all those plans. As summer 2022 approaches, New Jersey appears to be in a better place — so long as a new, more virulent strain does not emerge. Key metrics including severe illness and death have remained relatively low for more than two months, even though cases are on the upswing and every county is seeing high levels of transmission. To read the full story.