New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy speaks about a new cluster of coronavirus cases, traced to a high school house party, at a press conference on Thursday.

ABC 7 New York

Twenty teens between the ages of 15 and 19 have tested positive for the coronavirus in Middletown, New Jersey. 

Health officials say the cluster traces back to a house party that was held on July 11. 

State officials say the teens and some of their parents are refusing to cooperate with contract tracers, with some kids worried they would get in trouble for underage drinking.

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A new cluster of coronavirus cases in Middletown, New Jersey, has been traced back to a high school house party, and the teens who attended and their parents haven’t been cooperative with contact tracers, reports say.

Health officials say 20 young people, between the ages of 15 and 19, have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent days, according to ABC 7 New York.

They believe these cases are connected to a house party that took place in the town on July 11. 

However, contact tracers have been struggling to identify everyone who might have been exposed at the party.

Mayor Tony Perry of Middletown says teens have been refusing to cooperate with contact tracers, for fear of getting in trouble for underage drinking. 

“People think that they’re ratting on individuals or what have you. It’s not anything like that,” Perry told WCBS. “You’re not anything like that. You’re not getting anyone in trouble. This is all just about preventing the further spread and further possibility of COVID-19 exposures.”

One official also told NJ Advance Media that some of the teens’ parents are also being uncooperative, also citing concerns that their children would get in trouble for drinking.

The cluster has gained so much attention that even the governor weighed in. 

“We don’t condone illegal behavior, so I’m not wild about 15 [year olds] or whatever, drinking alcohol, on the one hand, okay, so please don’t break the law. Period,” Gov. Phil Murphy told a Thursday press conference.

“But on the other hand, this isn’t a witch hunt. This is a public health pursuit that the contact tracing corps is after.”

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Middletown health officials are asking anyone who attended the party to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor for signs and symptoms of the disease. 

“If they become ill, they should self-isolate and contact your family physician. We encourage you to have your child tested for COVID-19,” the Middletown health department said in a statement, according to ABC 7 New York. 

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