Murphy rolls out plans for expanded testing, contact tracing as reopening pressures mount

Murphy rolls out plans for expanded testing, contact tracing as reopening pressures mount

Health workers are testing for the corona virus. | Spencer Platt / Getty Images

New Jersey will spend hundreds of millions of dollars on developing the health infrastructure needed to reopen its economy, Governor Phil Murphy said Tuesday.

With sales forecasts collapsing under the weight of a Covid 19 recession, Murphy outlined the broad outline of his government’s plan to expand coronavirus testing and put together a contact tracking corps before the state’s economic revival.


Both are critical to the state’s recovery from the pandemic, Murphy said. To date, the corona virus has killed more than 9,500 New Jersey residents and infected at least 140,000.

“None of what we’re talking about today is going to be cheap. Maintaining a constant supply of test materials and a community of contact tracers will cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Murphy during his daily briefing in Trenton, adding that the state gets into a “tax emergency” caused by Covid 19. More federal aid will be of the utmost importance.

The rapid economic downturn in New Jersey as a result of the pandemic accelerated demands by many lawmakers – including Senate President Steve Sweeney and most, if not all, of the state’s republican caucus – to take more aggressive steps to enable companies to reopen.

Murphy initially directed most retailers to close on March 21, just over two weeks after the Coronavirus arrived in New Jersey, and leave more residents at home.

Enforcement of social distance rules helped the state smooth the curve and undermined forecasts of hospitalizations that overwhelmed the state’s health system and would likely have killed thousands more.

On Monday evening, 4,328 patients were hospitalized for confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19. According to the Ministry of Health, this is a decrease of about half in the last month, and there are significantly fewer patients who need intensive care, intensive care or ventilation.

Even so, according to recent standards, New Jersey remains the most affected state when considering daily rates of new infections, hospitalizations, and deaths per capita, Murphy said. And while hospital data indicate that the worst days of the crisis have passed, premature reopening of the state economy could be catastrophic, he said.

“So everyone … Nostradamus out there who think they can predict the future, and we can open this place wide and be carefree and return to an appearance where we were a few months ago. I want you to commit to remembering this chart, ”said Murphy, pointing to a bar chart showing New Jersey’s per capita totals.

According to the draft developed by Murphy on Tuesday, New Jersey could test at least 20,000 people a day by the end of the month. Capacity is expected to increase to 25,000 a day by the end of June, as RUCDR Infinite Biologics, a laboratory affiliated with Rutgers University, uses $ 6 million in federal funds to invest in materials and personnel which can process thousands of other saliva. Rehearsals every day.

At the end of April, New Jersey tested around 12,000 people daily.

According to Murphy, the state government will also hire at least one end-to-end testing provider to complement local health departments. According to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, the focus will be on urban areas such as Atlantic City, Camden, Elizabeth, Newark, Paterson and USA Trenton.

At the moment, according to Persichilli, tests for vulnerable groups – such as those who live in long-term care facilities, migrant workers and first aiders – are largely prioritized, while ultimately there is hope for a comprehensive screening of asymptomatic residents.

In the coming weeks, the government also expects to recruit and train a small army of workers – at least 1,000 people, and possibly up to 5,000 – to test the contacts of patients who have recently tested positive for the coronavirus.

The State Department of Health has signed a contract with the Rutgers School of Public Health to establish the “first installment” of this workforce, Murphy said, hoping that the contact tracers who sign up will be “so local, so diverse, so representative of how people will be you will call or contact them. ”

“The goal is for 90 percent of all new positive cases to be contacted within 24 hours,” Persichilli said during the press conference.

There are already between 800 and 900 officers working at local and regional levels in New Jersey in tracking capacities.

Murphy also announced on Tuesday that he would sign an executive order requiring each county and local health agency to launch a new information technology platform – Dimagi’s CommCare system – to coordinate contact tracking efforts across the state and across the state Greater New York City to improve.

“We need to use contact tracking like it has never been provided before,” he said. “With the Covid-19 threat, we need to centralize these efforts now. We are here to help local health departments, not to take them over. “

New Jersey will bear the cost of the contract, he said, adding that regional tracing complements contact tracking efforts frame introduced in April by Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo. These efforts are led by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the support of Johns Hopkins University and Vital Strategies.


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