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App measures physical distance, notifies users who’ve been near COVID-19

October 1, 2020 Editorial Staff
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced the launch of a free COVID-19 exposure notification mobile app as a tool to supplement the effort to trace and contact individuals subject to a COVID-19 exposure.

The app, COVID Alert NY, notifies users if they have been in close contact — within six feet for at least 10 minutes — of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“The COVID Alert NY technology complements the work of our contact tracing teams and will speed up the process by which New Yorkers are notified of potential exposure and provided with helpful resources on testing and social services from the State Department of Health,” said New York Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “We urge all New Yorkers to take the simple steps to download the app today.”

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The app uses Exposure Notification System technology developed by Google and Apple to strengthen state contact tracing programs. It is completely anonymous and does not track or collect any location data or personal data from your phone, according to Gov. Cuomo.

The Exposure Notification System uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to detect when another phone with the same app is within six feet. Proximity is measured, but not geographic location. COVID Alert app users must explicitly choose to turn on exposure notifications, and can turn them off at any time. The app never reveals the identity of the COVID-19 positive individual.

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy on Thursday announced an equivalent app, called NY and COVID Alert NJ, for his state.

With the launch, New York and New Jersey join Pennsylvania and Delaware in creating a regional COVID Alert app network that operates across state lines. Connecticut has also announced it will launch the Exposure Notification System in the coming weeks.

The app is available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in New York, and is available for download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. COVID Alert NY is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Korean, Russian and Haitian Creole.

The app can be downloaded here.

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