TOMS RIVER, NJ – Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan once said, the most nine terrifying words that can be spoken in America are, “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”
Now, thousands of New Jersey residents are receiving unsolicited phone calls saying just that.
You’re driving home from work and you get a phone call from an unknown number. What do you do?
According to Governor Phil Murphy, that call is one of his 1,500 contact tracers and only 20% of New Jersey residents are answering their calls. Like most other spam calls, they are being blocked and ignored.
Of the 80% remaining who do answer those calls, 50% don’t want to be bothered with Phil Murphy’s contact tracers, leaving a less than 40% success rate for the new system rolled out by Governor Murphy to tell people they were in contact with somebody who had COVID-19 and they should stay home.
“We continue to see a significant number of New Jerseyans refusing to cooperate with our contact tracers,” Murphy said. “Nearly 20% of the contacts aren’t answering the call, and nearly 50% of those who do answer the phone refuse to provide information to our contact tracers.”
Right now there are 1,529 people working as contact tracers for the state of New Jersey and they spend most of their day getting hung up, according to Murphy. That’s probably because most of New Jersey does not trust the state government or anything Governor Phil Murphy does.
“I’ve got to reiterate what we’ve said, Judy, several times. We’ve got to keep hitting on this point,” Murphy said on Friday. “It is incredibly important for everyone to take this seriously and to work with our contact tracers.”
Murphy and his criminal justice arm has been ruthless to people violating his hundred and fifty or so COVID-19 executive orders, but the governor says he’s not on a witch hunt to out people violating his declarations.
“Our contact tracers are not out on a witch hunt for any illegal activity like underage drinking, by the way, none of which we condone,” he said. “Their sole task, however, is to stop the spread of this virus and to save lives, period. Please answer the call and work with and be honest with the contact tracer who calls you.”
Ya, right? And the guy from India calling me to fix the virus on my computer just wants to increase my work productivity.
For Murphy, the show must go on.
“Over the past week, I am proud to note that we added 185 new contact tracers to our public health workforce, giving us an updated total of 1,529 tracers on the ground right now to help us fight the spread of this virus,” he said. “All but five counties, by the way, have now crossed our first benchmark of having at least 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents, and statewide there are more than 17 contact tracers per 100,000 residents. As I noted last week, our eventual goal is to have 30 contact tracers in place for every 100,000 residents. And it remains, by the way, Judy, an eye chart so this is one that’s best seen online as opposed to in our slides.”