New Jersey officials working on smartphone app to help with contact tracing

Trish Hartman Image
Wednesday, July 15, 2020
NJ officials working on smartphone app to help with contact tracing
New Jersey officials are working on smartphone app to help with contact tracing.

TRENTON, New Jersey (WPVI) -- New Jersey officials said Wednesday they plan to roll out an app for out-of-state travelers that will send a questionnaire and contact information to local health officials.

They are still asking travelers coming from 22 states, with higher infection rates, to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. Officials say the app could be available by early next week.

In New Jersey, the 22 states on the quarantine list are: Alabama; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Iowa; Kansas; Louisiana; Minnesota; Mississippi; Nevada; New Mexico; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; and Wisconsin.

Action News spoke with travelers on the New Jersey Turnpike and many were aware of the joint travel advisory issued by New Jersey, New York and Connecticut that's been in effect for three weeks.

Amy Groveman and her daughter were headed to Savannah, Georgia to move her out of her college apartment and that's one of the states on the list. They say they'll quarantine for two weeks when they get back to Long Island.

"I'm concerned about travelers in and out of these hot spot states and not respecting the quarantines, and I'm concerned about the number of states right now where COVID-19 seems to be out of control," said Groveman. "Whatever we need to do to contain this disease, we have to do."

In New York state this week, officials began enforcement of the travel advisory, requiring travelers to fill out a form at airports. Officials plan to issue $2,000 fines to those who don't comply.

Gov. Phil Murphy says he's not ready to use enforcement tactics just yet.

"We're not there on fines. We want to appeal to people's personal responsibility to do the right thing," said Murphy.

But not everyone is on board with the travel advisory.

"It's kind of bogus that they even have it out there, that you have to quarantine and there's a number to call. People are going to do what they're going to do," said Chris Maggio, adding that she makes sure she keeps her distance from others whenever she can.

But one family from Mississippi extended their vacation in Maine by two weeks just so they could comply with the state's quarantine policy.

"You don't know what we're bringing up there. You don't know if we have the COVID. It's good to keep us secluded from everyone in the local area," said Tara Wrobel.