TRENTON, N.J. - Gov. Phil Murphy is urging New Jersey residents to cooperate with the state's coronavirus contact tracers as part of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The state has added another 83 tracers, bolstering its team to 1,612, but that they are hitting a brick wall with a majority of the people they reach out to.
"More than half of the people our contact tracers are getting in touch with are refusing to cooperate," Murphy said on Friday. "This is highly disturbing to say the very least."
Contact tracers are reaching out to New Jersey residents who have either tested positive for the coronavirus or have been in close contact with someone who has. They contact you by phone, text, or letters dropped off at your door.
If you have tested positive, a contact tracer will ask you to "identify your close contacts — anyone who was within six feet of you for more than 10 minutes starting two days before you first had symptoms," according to the state's COVID-19 website. Then the tracers will get in touch with those folks to "recommend next steps like self-quarantining and to share resources about how those people can get tested."
The governor said this effort is not a "witch hunt."
"Our contact tracers only care about protecting public health," Murphy said. "They care about protecting you and your family and your friends."
The governor said that the state doesn't condone illegal behavior or underage drinking but that the contact tracing program isn't about enforcing anything related to that. It is about slowing the spread of the virus.
"Please, folks, take the damn call. Work with them," Murphy said. "Consider it another piece of personal responsibility that we must take to defeat this virus."
- You can read more details about the contact tracing program here.
- Stay on top of the coronavirus pandemic news here.
- Find mental health resources here.
- Check out the WHO COVID-19 mythbusters here.
This story was produced from New York City.