New Jersey

COVID-19 Tests in NJ Surpass 1 Million as State Focuses on Contact Tracing

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More than 1 million COVID-19 tests have been administered in New Jersey since the start of the coronavirus pandemic as the state puts a focus on contact tracing to find cases when someone test positive.

As of Tuesday, more than 1 million COVID-19 tests had been administered in New Jersey.

Of those tested, more than 165,000 people in New Jersey had tested positive for COVID-19. At least 12,377 people had died from coronavirus-related complications.

Besides testing, Gov. Phil Murphy is focusing on contact tracing in the days immediately after someone tests positive for coronavirus as key to keeping the virus in check. The practice is called contact tracing.

The people who could be contacted are those who spent 10 minutes in within 6 feet of someone with COVID-19. Contact tracers will urge people with COVID-19 contact to get tested and help them find a testing site, urge that person to self-quarantine and offer support in attempts to prevent further spread, Murphy said.

There are already 900 local contact tracers working across New Jersey.

An additional 1,600 contact tracers are being brought online in New Jersey by the end of the month. The state is prepared to have up to 4,000 contact tracers or more if needed, Murphy said.

"New Jersey’s robust contact tracing program will supplement and support the great work of our local health departments," Murphy said Wednesday. "Our goal is to ensure that contact tracers receive information that is uniform, secure, and can benefit other communities."

The first-term Democrat on Wednesday spoke of the CommCare platform, not calling it a tracking app. He said the information could be shared with Philadelphia and New York neighbors, which are also using the app.

Murphy tried to clear up some questions people may have about being contacted by contact tracers. He said your privacy will be protected.

"We are doing it for your good, and for your family's good, and for the greater community's good.," Murphy said.

Murphy said basic info, health state, living situation, your occupation and other questions could be asked. He said Social Security numbers, immigration status and financial information wouldn't be asked.

New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the goal is to have a diverse contact tracing team that represents the communities they will serve.

Contact tracing training is done online and takes around 15 hours, she said.

"As part of their training, contact tracers will follow a full curriculum that includes a focus on interview skills, ethics and privacy," Murphy said.

COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have slowed for several weeks as Murphy has put an emphasis on data gathered from expanded testing as being key to reopening parts of the economy.

On Tuesday, Murphy lifted the state's stay-at-home order and eased crowd restrictions on gatherings. In the coming weeks, child care centers, summer camps, pools and youth sports can resume.

Murphy is urging anyone who wants to be tested for COVID-19 to get a test. He himself got tested Wednesday after attending a protest rally over the weekend.

Testing and tracing information can be found on New Jersey's website.

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