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The state is building up its contact tracing program to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The New Jersey Department of Health unveiled an online dashboard highlighting New Jersey’s contact tracing efforts throughout the state.

The state, working with the Rutgers School of Public Health and Public Consulting Group, is continuing to build a strong, quality contact tracing program.

CommCare, the state’s uniform data reporting system, was introduced and launched statewide in early July, according to a Cape May County press release.

To date, 1,344 contact tracers throughout the state are in the field, which includes existing local health department staff and Rutgers-trained contact tracers that have been deployed by the NJDOH.

A total of 638 contact tracers have been hired through the Rutgers School of Public Health, 349 of whom have already completed training and been deployed by NJDOH.

The Rutgers School of Public Health is contracted to hire a total of 1,000 contact tracers.

Currently, the Cape May County Department of Health has five of those contact tracers.

The difficulty happening with contact tracers has been the lack of cooperation with follow-up on cases.

For example, 45 percent of people who tested positive declined to share information on their close contacts, the press release states.

As a result, the New Jersey Department of Health began a multi-media, multilingual statewide public awareness campaign this week to encourage people to get tested and to increase the public’s knowledge of what contact tracing is and the role it plays in preventing spread of the disease.

According to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, the success of the program depends on people answering and giving detailed information to the contact tracers.

This information is needed in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect those who come in contact with someone who has tested positive, the release notes.

The dashboard also provides the number of contact tracers working in each county.

With a current average of 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, the state will prioritize assigning additional tracers to counties that need to reach this level.

Once all counties have reached this benchmark, the goal will rise to 30 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents.

The progress of the virus will also be taken into account when addressing contact tracing needs.

The Department will continue to review and assess information available on the dashboard.

If you are notified as being a close contact, quarantine for 14 days, monitor your symptoms, and get tested. If there are any doubts, the person called can request the name of anyone who calls and call their local health department to verify.

If a resident suspects a call is a scam, they can report it to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs at 973-504-6240.

Stay up to date on the current situation as it evolves. Some sources are the New Jersey Poison Information and Education System Hotline at 211 or 1-800-962-1253, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov, the World Health Organization at www.who.int and the New Jersey Department of Health at COVID19.nj.gov.

For additional information, visit the Cape May County Department of Health at www.cmchealth.net and on Facebook.