NEW JERSEY – The state is hiring more than 200 contact tracers as part of its ongoing fight against COVID-19, Governor Phil Murphy announced at press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“There are more than 230 tracers being on-boarded,” Murphy said. This is in addition to the 900 tracers already working throughout the state.

Murphy said they are trained to not only find people who have been exposed but to “see the human faces” affected by COVID-19.

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“An investment in these tracers represents a direct investment in public health,” Murphy said.

Dr. Perry N. Halkitis, Dean of Public Health at Rutgers University, said the goal of the Contact Tracing Corps is to target, test, treat and trace, which are key steps toward slowing the spread of the virus.

Halkitis said they have recruited 1,000 people who will be “rigorously trained and supported in an ongoing effort,” an undertaking he said will go on for “decades.”

He warned about possible scams, as well, informing individuals who are contacted that a tracer will never ask for money or their social security number.

Among other announcements, Murphy said that after a discussion with governors in the tri-state area, residents of highly-impacted states “should quarantine upon arrival in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut” going forward.

Murphy also announced that on July 2, museums, aquariums, and some in-door recreational facilities will be allowed to open, which include bowling alleys, batting cages, shooting ranges and boardwalk arcades.

Gyms and fitness centers for individual training and by appointment only are allowed to open.  General gym admission is not currently allowed.

Libraries will be allowed to open at 25% capacity, as well, starting on July 2.

NJ Transit trains and light rail will resume a full weekday schedule beginning Monday, July 6.

Murphy also reported 169,892 total coronavirus cases in New Jersey, with 317 new cases reported Wednesday. There has been 12,995 deaths in the state, with 48 new deaths reported Wednesday, as well.

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