FANWOOD, NJ — People with COVID-19 can catch the virus and not show symptoms for up to two weeks, meaning that they may not yet know if they caught it at a New Year’s gathering, health officials said.

Westfield Regional Health Officer Megan Avallone told NJ Spotlight News, a partner of TAPinto.net, that many people are unaware of coronavirus’ two-week incubation period and so may not know they have been exposed.

Further complicating the situation, Avallone said, is contract tracers’ difficulty in both reaching and gaining the cooperation of people who have tested positive for the virus. Approximately half of those people her department attempts to reach are not cooperative, she said.

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“It’s really difficult for public health when we don’t have the information we need to really help people — let them know that they’ve been exposed,” Avallone told the website. “A lot of times there is no return call, and a lot of times, it’s difficult to get information.”

Fanwood is one of the eight municipalities in the regional health department’s service area. There is approximately 50% lack of cooperation across the regional health department’s territory, according to Avallone. It’s also significantly better than the statewide level of cooperation, Gov. Phil Murphy has repeatedly lamented.

Murphy last month reported that 74 % of people were not cooperating with contact tracers, whose role is to curtail the virus' spread by notifying those people potentially exposed.

“It’s completely unacceptable,” he said.

At his COVID-19 briefing, Murphy opined on the political reasons people may not cooperate and said he hoped that the state’s reporting of COVID-19 deaths might sway more cooperation.

Video Courtesy of NJ Spotlight News