TRENTON, NJ — To bolster the public's lukewarm response to contact tracing efforts, New Jersey is piloting a mobile app that will notify residents if they have been in close, prolonged contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said state employees and students from Montclair State University, Stockton University and Passaic County Community College have been testing the "exposure notification mobile" app.
“You might not even know you were exposed, but the app will tell you,” she said during Gov. Phil Murphy's September 23 press briefing. “The app can alert users if they have been potentially exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and provide information on what to do next.”
For those who fear that Big Brother will be using the app to peer into their personal information, Persichilli said that it does not use location data nor collect personal information, but did not further elaborate. The app communicates through Bluetooth on mobile devices. It will detect and log anonymous codes from devices with the app that are in close contact, within six feet of a user for 10 minutes or longer, she explained.
It will also offer daily COVID-19 statistics, such as new cases, hospitalizations by county and deaths.
The testing period should conclude by the end of the week, but it’s not clear when the app will be available to download, Persichilli said. The 130 or so individuals involved in testing the app have rated it 4.6 of five stars.
The state is turning to technology to help fight the spread of COVID-19 as New Jersey’s corps of nearly 1,870 contact tracers continues to meet with resistance. According to the latest information on the state's contact tracing dashboard, 22 percent of those called do not answer the phone and 56 percent refuse to provide the names of contacts.
Below is the video of Gov. Murphy's September 23 press briefing:
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