The state will hire at least 1,000 people, creating a Community Contact Tracing Corps and supplementing the roughly 800 to 900 mostly county health officials who are currently tracing contacts among coronavirus-positive residents.
New Jersey currently employs between 700-800, and the state health commissioner said up to 5,000 could be needed.
Individuals who are interested in becoming a contact tracer can register at covid19.nj.gov/tracer.
The positions could be paid or volunteer. Applicants must take a 12-part online course.
The state will be scheduling people 7 days a week, but no more than 35 hours per week.
The news came as Murphy announced the state's COVID-19 data is trending in the right direction, though he stopped short of specifying dates by which the state might reopen its economy.
"The road back is paved with five words. Public health creates economic health," Murphy said. "We will move as quickly as we can but as safely as we must."
The state's more than 500 long-term care facilities must also test all their residents for the virus by May 26 under a new health department order, Murphy said.
There must also be a follow-up test a week later, and facilities must update their outbreak prevention plans by May 19, he added.
The state added about 900 new positive cases since Monday, bringing the total to about 141,000. It's the first time since March 25 that the number of new cases has been below 1,000, Murphy pointed out.
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