Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced the launch of a new COVID-19 mobile application to further prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The app, which will also be utilized in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut, will serve as a tool to supplement the effort to trace and contact individuals subject to exposure, officials said on Thursday. COVID Alert NY will notify uses of potential exposure while maintaining user privacy and security.
“We have a very exciting announcement that has taken a lot of work and it’s really creative and smart and I think it can make a big difference,” Cuomo said. “Testing is to identify a person, so you can isolate and quarantine that person and then find the connections from that person, and that’s contact tracing. We have about 15,000 people statewide who do contact tracing. But we’ve been looking for a technology-based solution.”
The app will use Exposure Notification System technology developed by Google and Apple to strengthen New York and New Jersey’s contact tracing programs statewide. The COVID Alert apps will notify users if they have been in close contact – within six feet for at least 10 minutes – with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
Officials stressed that knowing about a potential exposure can help individuals quickly make a plan to stay safe, including contacting their physician or state health department to get more information about quarantining and testing to prevent community spread.
“This is another critical tool in our toolbox to help our state keep the spread of COVID-19 at bay,” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said. “With our states using similar technology it recognizes, yet again, that the virus does not recognize boundaries, and that we must continue to work together to take all of the steps necessary to keep our residents safe.”
COVID Alert NY and COVID Alert NJ are completely anonymous and do not track or collect any location data or personal data from your phone, officials said. The Exposure Notification System will use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to detect when another phone with the same app is within six feet for more than 10 minutes.
COVID Alert app users must explicitly choose to turn on exposure notifications and can turn it off at any time.
When the app senses a close contact, your phone will exchange a secure random code with that person’s phone, all the while keeping personally identifiable data 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 code.
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, officials said.
The COVID Alert NY app will work in conjunction with similar apps in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, allowing New Yorkers to continue to receive exposure notifications when exposed to residents of those states. If a New York State 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.
The app will also provide users with the latest information about COVID-19 in their states, including publicly reported testing data. In addition, the app features a Health Log where users can anonymously record daily symptoms.
The free mobile app can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and is available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in New York or New Jersey. COVID Alert NY is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Korean, Russian and Haitian Creole.