TRENTON, NJ - Contact tracers have been deployed across the state to determine who is impacted by COVID-19. Their job includes calling thousands of people to ask about their whereabouts.
It's not going over very well. 60% reject the call.
With the national scorn spreading on the Governor of California who dined in a swanky restaurant without masks and with no social distancing, citizens are, unfortunately, becoming more skeptical of their overseers in elected office. Trust over contact tracing efforts in New Jersey have been impacted as well.
According to New Jersey's Governor Murphy, however, they are not on a 'witch hunt' for COVID-19 impacted people when the contact tracers call you.
"Judy and I and others have reminded you of the past several months the other side of the testing program is our contact tracing program which we continue to build out to meet the tremendous challenge posed by the second wave. On Monday 207 prospective new contact tracers begin their training, and they will be deployed statewide in the coming days - as they complete their training once that happens we will have more than 2300 contact tracers on the ground." stated Murphy at his noon press conference on Friday.
"Our goal remains to get every county to a minimum number of 30 tracers for every 100,000 residents. This past week 120 new tracers came online and with their additions both Essex and Union counties now exceed this threshold - five other counties Passaic Warren Mercer Cumberland Salem have also reach this benchmark."
"However, we continue to see a lack of cooperation with our contact tracers the percentage of cases in which people refuse to provide any contacts for follow-up tracing continues to hover at about 60%." Murphy said.
"Folks, please take the call - our contact tracers have a clear job - they're not in a witch hunt, they are making sure you have the resources you need to safely self-quarantine and notify those who you may have exposed, so they could take steps to protect themselves and slow the spread of this virus throughout the community."
Murphy also urged residents to download an application to their cell phone to help with tracking as well. The adoption rate has been extremely low considering the population. "The app is been so far downloaded more than 375,000 times." said Murphy, who emphasized that it does not identify you. "It uses Bluetooth technology to exchange secure non-identifying codes between smartphones that have downloaded the app... all notifications are anonymous you'll never know who it was."
The lack of faith in the 'trust us' approach in today's political and privacy climate may be impacting the states' ability to harness new technology to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Time will tell if there will be a societal change to the aversion to tracking technology on your personal phone or answering calls from strangers about where you went and who you were with last night.
For readers who would like to learn more about contact tracing and how to download free COVID-19 tracking software to your personal phone, click HERE