New York’s new app can tell you if someone nearby has COVID-19

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Cuomo on Thursday announced a new smartphone app that can alert New Yorkers if they’ve come into contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The app called COVID Alert was designed to trace and contact those exposed.

The app tells users if they are within six feet of someone recently tested positive for the virus, and if they had spent 10 minutes or more near that person, Cuomo explained at a press conference.

“The way it will work is that when a person tests positive, the Department of Health contacts that person, asks if they have an iPhone, gives them a password, that person types their password for their phone. , then for any other phone. which is within six feet of this phone is on the app, ”Cuomo said.

The app does not track user movements and no personal data is collected by the state, according to the governor’s office. Instead, the app uses Bluetooth to pair up with other people who have downloaded it.


“No names, no private information, it’s voluntary,” Cuomo said. “No one has access to data outside of the cell phone location. “

COVID Alert will also work in in conjunction with contact tracing apps in neighboring states including Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

There are already 15,000 people in New York City who have been hired throughout the pandemic as official contact tracers for the state, after taking an online course. These “disease detectives” identify individuals who have been exposed to the virus and call them with instructions on how to properly quarantine. The free COVID Alert app is the technological solution to this, Cuomo said.

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