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Coronavirus cluster linked to New Jersey house party, parents not cooperating with contact tracers

Written by on July 24, 2020

Health officials in Middletown, New Jersey, are tracking a coronavirus cluster stemming from a teen party — but are getting pushback from parents, according to reports.

Authorities said 20 partygoers between the ages of 15 and 19 are believed to have been exposed to the global pandemic at a house party on West Front Street in the city on July 11, ABC News reported Thursday.

But health department investigators say they’re facing resistance from the teens’ parents.

New Jersey Gov. Phil MurphyNew Jersey Gov. Phil MurphyTariq Zehawi/The Record via AP, Pool

“We’re asking and pleading with parents and the students that may have attended that,” Middletown Mayor Tony Perry told the station. “You’re not in any trouble, but we want to break the back of this infection.”

“And if we can get that contact information and get some details, we are then able to contact those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus,” Perry said.

Gov. Phil Murphy said he was worried that the difficulty in tracking down the teens could become a larger issue in the state.

“I’m not wild about 15-year-olds, or whatever, drinking alcohol on the one hand,” he told WCBS Radio. “Please don’t break the law. Period. But on the other hand, this isn’t a witch hunt.”

Officials at the Middletown Health Department could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Earlier this month, officials in Rockland County decided to play hardball when faced with a similar dilemma — issuing subpoenas and threatening $2,000 fines after parents shut down health officials following a party in mid-June that infected as many as 100 people.

The move worked, and parents began cooperating with investigators.

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