Coronavirus

New Jersey to Expand Testing Capacity, Announces ‘Robust’ Contact Tracing Plan

The plan includes hiring at least 1,000 dedicated contact tracers

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What to Know

  • New Jersey announced a comprehensive strategy to expand testing capacity and implement a "robust" contact tracing program in the state
  • The plan includes doubling the state's testing capacity and increase to at least 20,000 tests per day by the end of May and at least 25,000 tests completed per day by the end of June
  • The plan also includes hiring at least 1,000 dedicated contact tracers

New Jersey announced a comprehensive strategy to expand testing capacity and implement a "robust" contact tracing program in the state.

“Implementing an expanded testing regime and robust contact tracing strategy are the underpinnings of putting New Jersey on the road back to recovery,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. 

According to the governor, the state will double its testing capacity and increase to at least 20,000 tests per day by the end of May and at least 25,000 tests completed per day by the end of June.

To date, there are 135 public and privately-operated specimen collection sites statewide, including 11 Rite Aid locations. CVS will also have swab-and-send testing sites at 50 of their stores across the state by the end of the May.

While the state testing program provides access for frontline health care workers, first responders and transit workers, the state will also prioritize access to testing for vulnerable populations, including residents in long-term care facilities, individuals in the corrections system, individuals in homeless shelters, patients in psychiatric hospitals and seasonal farm workers.

The statewide testing plan will also use mobile testing units to specifically reach out and serve communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Testing sites will also open at churches, synagogues and mosques, Murphy said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci commented on his meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus on Monday, saying that resources and testing need to be made more readily available in African-American communities that are “suffering much more disproportionately.”

Additionally, on Tuesday, the governor announced that New Jersey will be requiring that all local, county and regional health departments use the CommCare technological platform to streamline its contact tracing efforts and have a centralizes statewide database. The state will bear the cost of technology platform.

New Jersey also announced it will need to hire at least 1,000 dedicated contact tracers to "build a robust Community Contact Tracing Corps" and grow the effort of the 800-900 contact tracers. To jump start this effort, New Jersey will partner with the state’s colleges and universities to employ public health, social work and students as frontline workers. The New Jersey Department of Health will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Rutgers School of Public Health to kickstart the new workforce.

Murphy said the contact tracers will work alongside the regional contact tracing program headed by former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

“Public health creates economic health and today’s plan will give our residents and business owners confidence that the state is prepared to move forward strategically and responsibly," Murphy said.

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