Cuomo’s ‘COVID Alert’ app signals when you are within 6 feet of a person who tested positive

WHAM-13.com:

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo provided an updated on the state’s progress on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic during a conference call on Thursday.

Governor Cuomo announced that the state has released a new app that will alert you if you were within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, and if you were around that person for 10 or more minutes. 

The app uses bluetooth technology and does not track GPS coordinates. It also does not collect personal information according to state officials.

The app cost approximately $700,000 and was paid for with money from the federal government, as well as funds from the Bloomberg Philanthropy foundation.

The free app, called “COVID Alert” is available on Apple and Android devices.

Using Bluetooth technology, the app will detect when you spend more than 10 minutes within close contact of someone else who has the app and exchanges a “secure random code” with the other individual’s device. If a person tests positive, they will be contacted by the Department of Health and be asked whether they would share the app’s close contact codes.

Officials stress that personal information is never released.

“We don’t collect any data,” said Larry Schwartz. “There’s no locator device on the app, so it doesn’t track anyone who downloads the app at all, we were very sensitive to making sure – the key to this is to get people to voluntary download the app, otherwise it doesn’t work.”

The app was developed in conjunction with Bloomberg Philanthropies with assistance from Google, Apple and other tech companies.

New York currently has 15,000 contact tracers across the state. Cuomo says the app provides a new tool in the tracing effort.

“Testing is only as good as your contact tracing,” Cuomo said.

Regarding testing, the governor said nearly 109,000 tests were conducted throughout the state Wednesday, with oversampling in Rockland County, Orange County and Brooklyn, where there have been recent hot spots.

The governor says infection rates in the top 20 zip codes in terms of infection rate showed an average rate of 6.5% Wednesday, up from 5.5% the day before – with most increases seen in Brooklyn. He said infections in the top 20 zip codes represent about 26% of all infections in the state.

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