TRENTON, NJ – New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy hired 2,700 contact tracers during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and their efforts essentially hit a brick wall. New Jersey wasn’t answering their calls. Murphy said at times, less than 40% of calls were either unanswered or uncooperative.
Now, with between 200 and 300 new COVID-19 cases being reported statewide daily, Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said those contact tracers aren’t going anywhere any time soon. On Wednesday, when asked what the status of contact tracers in New Jersey is, Murphy channeled his inner Ben Kenobi.
“Contact tracing is a term we haven’t heard in a very long time,” Murphy said.
Now, the state says it is retraining its army of contact tracers for post-COVID-19 activities.
“We currently have about 2,745 contact tracers still active in our counties,” Persichili said. “They do more than just COVID contact tracing. They’re being retrained to help the local county health departments do more of the communicable disease contact tracing.”
Persichilli said the contact tracers are ‘very active’ and ‘learning to do other activities’.
“Contact tracing didn’t just get invented with COVID-19,” Murphy said, supporting the long term retention of the corps. “The infrastructure existed, we just bulked it up.”
Dr. Christina Tan told residents to answer the phone call when contact tracers call.
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