June 10, 2020
New Jersey is anticipating it will on-board 1,600 new contact tracers by the end of the month to expand the state's program to track the spread of COVID-19.
There are currently 900 people working in the program, meaning there could be as many as 2,500 contact tracers across the state by the end of June.
In July, that total could increase to as many as 4,000 contact tracers as New Jersey continues along in its restart and recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. More contact tracers may be necessary if public health indicators, the trajectory of the number of COVID-19 patients and program innovations indicate so.
Contact tracers will undergo 10 hours of training through a curriculum that prioritizes interview skills, ethics, and privacy. Training will be spearheaded by Rutgers University’s School of Public Health and local health departments.
Rutgers and other New Jersey colleges are providing about 400 trained contact tracers — many of who are graduate students and alumni.
New Jersey is using CommCare for collecting and organizing data from the contact tracing program. The database is being used in two pilot programs — one of which is in Camden — and will be expanded statewide.
The state is working with municipalities to launch public awareness campaigns so residents understand the importance of contact tracing.
Murphy said the program supplements the work of local health departments and is built upon consent, transparency, security, and limits. The goal of the program is to ensure contact tracers can receive accurate information that can help other communities, he said.
“We’ve worked hard to expand testing and contact tracing capacity,” Murphy said. “This will not only put us firmly on the road back—but also ensure we stay there.”
New Jersey reported an additional 611 positive coronavirus cases on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total number of cases up to 165,346. The state recorded 74 new deaths due to COVID-19, increasing the statewide death toll due to the virus to 12,377.
South Jersey has had 20,461 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,268 deaths due to COVID-19.