TRENTON, NJ — If you’d like to know whether you’ve been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus — within six feet or for at least 10 minutes — there is now an app for that in New Jersey and several surrounding states.
COVID Alert NJ is a new “exposure notification” mobile app launched this week that is being touted by state officials as a “crucial tool to supplement the effort to trace and contact individuals subject to a COVID exposure … while maintaining user privacy and security.”
New Jersey joins New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware in creating a regional COVID Alert app network that operates across state lines to track potential coronavirus exposure. Connecticut also plans to unveil an app using the same technology.
“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,” said Gov. Murphy in a press release. “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.”
The apps developed by Google and Apple can help individuals quickly make a plan to stay safe, including contacting their physician or state Health Department hotlines to get more information about quarantining and testing to prevent community spread, the release said.
In recent weeks, state employees and students from Montclair State University, Stockton University and Passaic County Community College have been testing the application.
State officials provided these details about its capabilities:
- Usage is completely anonymous and does not track or collect any location data or personal data from a user’s phone.
- They do not use GPS location data, but rather Bluetooth Low Energy technology to detect when another phone with the same app is within six feet.
- Proximity is measured, but not geographic location.
- Users must explicitly choose to turn on exposure notifications — and can turn it off at any time.
- When the app senses a close contact, the user’s phone will exchange a secure random code with the close contact’s phone. A user’s location, name or personally identifiable data are never disclosed.
- Users who test positive for COVID-19 will be contacted by a public health representative from the local health department as part of the state’s contact tracing program and will be asked to anonymously notify their “close contacts” by uploading their app’s anonymous close contact codes.
- Each day, the app will compare a user’s list of close contact codes to the list of codes associated with positive COVID-19 app users. If there’s a match, the user will get an Exposure Alert, along with appropriate next steps to stay safe and prevent community spread, such as self-quarantining and getting tested.
- The identity of a COVID-19 positive individual is "never revealed."
- If a New Jersey resident travels to a state and is exposed to someone with COVID-19 who has an equivalent app, the resident will receive a notification.
The free mobile apps — available to anyone age 18 or older who lives, works or attends college in New Jersey or New York — can be downloaded from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. Visit covid19.nj.gov/app for more information.
Below is a video on the app:
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