'This is not a witch hunt': Many in NJ refusing to work with contact tracers

By 1010 WINS

TRENTON, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- New Jersey has been growing its team of COVID-19 contact tracers, but a “significant” number of residents are refusing to cooperate with them, Gov. Phil Murphy said Friday. 

Nearly 20 percent of the New Jerseyans the state’s contact tracers have reached out to refused to answer their phones, Murphy said during a briefing Friday afternoon. Nearly 50 percent of those who did answer their phones, meanwhile, refused to provide any information, he said. 

“It is incredibly important for everyone to take this seriously and to work with our contact tracers,” he said. “Our contact tracers are not out on a witch hunt for any illegal activity like underage drinking — by the way, none of which we condone.”

“Their sole task is to stop the spread of this virus and to save lives, period,” he added. “Please answer the call and work with and be honest with the contact tracer who calls you.” 

Murphy on Friday reported 585 new COVID-19 cases and 10 new deaths, bringing the state’s case total to 187,164 and its death toll to 14,064. The state is also investigating 1,839 probable COVID-19 deaths. 

One of the 10 people who died passed away on Wednesday; four passed away on Tuesday; and five passed away between July 21 and Aug. 8, he said.  

As of Thursday, 514 in the state were hospitalized with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, 91 of whom were in intensive care units and 40 of whom were on ventilators. The state’s rate of transmission currently stands at 0.92, Murphy said. 

“We need you to keep these numbers down,” he said. “Social distance, wear a mask, wash your hands, work with contact tracers.”