Coronavirus News: NY, NJ governors announce COVID Alert app

COVID-19 News and Information

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, October 1, 2020
Are you near someone with COVID? New app will alert you
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Marcus Solis has more on a free app that could help alert you to people with COVID.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Governors Cuomo and Murphy unveiled a new free app called COVID Alert NY and COVID Alert NJ that they say will help the state in its contact tracing efforts.

Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware also have apps.

The app is designed to tell users if they were within 6 feet of a person who tested positive, and if they were within 6 feet of a person who tested positive for 10 minutes.

It works using Bluetooth and cell phone data, and the app will know where a person who tested positive was through their cell phone.

When a person tests positive, the Department of Health asks that person if they would like to participate. They will then be given a code that they type into their phone. Any phone that comes within 6 feet of that phone is alerted.

It's a voluntary program.

The free mobile apps are available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in New York, New Jersey, Delaware, or Connecticut and are available for download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

"Throughout the course of this crisis, I have asked my fellow New Yorkers to wear a mask, keep an appropriate distance from each other, get tested and participate in our contact tracing program, because only by working together can we flatten the curve. And that's what we did - but we must remain vigilant, which is why I am asking New Yorkers to once again come together and use this latest tool, COVID Alert NY, to strengthen New York's contact tracing program, stop the spread and keep our communities safe," Governor Cuomo said. "Downloading COVID Alert NY will not just help protect you and your loved ones, but will help protect all New Yorkers."

Governor Cuomo explains the new COVID Alert NY app and how it works.

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COVID Alert NJ and COVID Alert NY are completely anonymous and do not track or collect any location data or personal data from your phone. The COVID Alert apps do not use GPS location data. COVID Alert app users must explicitly choose to turn on exposure notifications - and can turn it off at any time.

"Over the course of our public health emergency, we've called for a shared sense of personal responsibility to support our contact tracing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19," said Governor Murphy. "With the launch of COVID Alert NJ and our regional app network, New Jerseyans and residents in our neighboring states can support our fight against COVID-19 simply by downloading an application on their phone. The app is free and secure, and your identity, personally identifying information, and location will never be collected.

The more phones that have the app, the better we can fight this pandemic."

After downloading the app, users must opt-in to receive "Exposure Notifications." When the app senses a close contact, your phone will exchange a secure random code with the close contact's phone. Of note, your location, name or personally identifiable data are never disclosed.

If you test positive for COVID-19, a public health representative from the local health department will call as part of the states' contact tracing programs and ask if you are willing to anonymously notify your "close contacts" by uploading your app's anonymous close contact codes.

Each day, the app will compare your list of close contact codes to the list of codes associated with positive COVID-19 app users. If there's a match, you will get an Exposure Alert, along with appropriate next steps to stay safe and prevent community spread like self-quarantining and getting tested. COVID Alert apps never reveal the identity of the COVID-19 positive individual.

The COVID Alert NJ app will work in conjunction with similar apps in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania, allowing New Jerseyans to continue to receive exposure notifications when exposed to residents of those states. If a New Jersey resident travels to one of those states and is exposed to someone with COVID-19 who has an equivalent app, the resident will receive a notification.

COVID Alert NJ and COVID Alert NY provide users with the latest information about COVID-19 in their states, including publicly reported testing data. In addition, the app features a symptom checker where users can anonymously record daily symptoms.

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