New Jersey Deploys 900 Contact Tracers as State Pushes Reopening

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(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said the state had deployed 900 contact tracers, a day after lifting its stay-at-home order to continue reopening the economy.

“Contact tracers take on new urgency,” Murphy said. “Our job is to grow their ranks.”

State data showed more than 1 in 9 New Jerseyans had now tested negative for the coronavirus, which has now killed 12,377 residents, with 165,346 new cases reported.

New Jersey Deploys 900 Contact Tracers as State Pushes Reopening

“It will come back in some form or another,” Murphy said of the virus. “The question is what are we going to do about it.”

Murphy said contact tracers, who get in touch with people suspected of having exposure to the virus, can number 4,000 in August, if cases resurge. Currently, 900 are working in New Jersey, and the state expects 2,500 working by month’s end. New hires will get 10 hours of training.

The state isn’t pursuing electronic tracing, such as the cell-phone applications in use in South Korea and other countries, he said.

Murphy on Tuesday lifted the state’s March 21 stay-at-home order but urged residents to wear masks and maintain distance from one another. Indoor gatherings must be at 25% of a building’s capacity or 50 people, whichever is lower. Outdoor crowds are capped at 100.

The governor also said he anticipated raising the limit on non-protest and non-religious activities to 250 people on June 22, and 500 people on July 3.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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