The state will hire at least 1,000 people, creating a Community Contact Tracing Corps and supplementing the roughly 800 to 900 mostly county health officials who are currently tracing contacts among coronavirus-positive residents, the first-term Democrat said.
👥CONTACT TRACING👥— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 12, 2020
We’re going to have to use contact tracing unlike it’s ever been deployed before.
We’re going to need to build our Community Contact Tracing Corps – an entire community of contact tracers to help those already on the ground. pic.twitter.com/ALgp1N572A
The news came as Murphy announced the state's COVID-19 data is trending in the right direction, though he stopped short of specifying dates by which the state might reopen its economy.
"The road back is paved with five words. Public health creates economic health," Murphy said. "We will move as quickly as we can but as safely as we must."
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Murphy pointed to the top four indicators: hospitalizations, patients in the hospital, patients in the ICU and patients on ventilators. They decreased 36%-71% since the peak. He emphasized that New Jersey is the hardest hit per capita state in the country and is the most densely populated.
The state's more than 500 long-term care facilities must also test all their residents for the virus by May 26 under a new health department order, Murphy said. There must also be a follow-up test a week later, and facilities must update their outbreak prevention plans by May 19, he added.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve seen the trendlines that we’ve needed to see.— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 12, 2020
The multiple stresses on our hospitals have been consistently – and in some cases dramatically – lessening. pic.twitter.com/w3KMwonWQz
The governor announced $6 million of federal funding will be directed to Rutgers University to boost their test production capabilities from 10,000 tests per day to 50,000 within the next six to eight weeks.
As of Tuesday, there were 135 testing sites in the states, both public and privately operated.
Murphy said along with Rite Aid's testing locations, CVS will be opening 50 sites throughout the state by the end of the month.
The New Jersey Department of Health will be issuing an order expanding access to testing without a prescription for residents with possible exposure who fall in priority categories and lack access to a primary care practitioner, Murphy said.
🧪TESTING🧪— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) May 12, 2020
We’re now well on our way to our next goal of being able to provide at least 20,000 tests a day by the end of the month.
✅March: 6,000 tests a day
✅April: 12,000 tests a day
✅End of May: 20,000 tests of day
✅End of June: At least 25,000 tests a day
"Our testing plan will also utilize mobile testing units which will go right into our communities. We will also open testing sites within our institutions of faith, including at churches and mosques. We will work with all our communities of faith to build trust," Murphy said.
The state added 898 new positive cases since Monday, bringing the total to 140,743. It's the first time since March 25 that the number of new cases has been below 1,000, Murphy pointed out. There were 198 deaths reported since Monday, bringing the death toll to 9,508.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness or death.
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