On March 4, 2020, a 32-year-old physician’s assistant from Fort Lee became the first person in New Jersey diagnosed with a disease that would claim more than 33,000 lives in the state, upend its economy, disrupt the education of millions of its children and sorely test its health care system. Now, two years later, New Jersey finally appears to be at a turning point in the COVID-19 pandemic. “I think we’ve passed the worst here,” said Dr. Brian L. Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences. In the future, he predicted, COVID-19 “will be like flu.”  Experts point to several signs for optimism. On Monday, the state mask mandate for schools ends; local school districts will set the policy for face-coverings going forward. To read the full story.