ALBANY — New York State is taking contact tracing a step further by releasing a new mobile app that alerts users that they are within 6 feet of someone who may have COVID-19.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday the app, COVID Alert NY, notifies users of potential COVID-19 exposure while maintaining user privacy and security.
With the launch, New York joins New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware in creating a regional COVID-19 Alert app network that operates across state lines to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Connecticut has also announced it will launch the Exposure Notification System in the coming weeks.
The free mobile app, available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in New York, is available for download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
COVID Alert NY is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Korean, Russian and Haitian Creole.
“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. This is a technology-based contact tracing app. Testing is only as good as your contact tracing,” 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, they call them disease detectives. But we’ve been looking for a technology-based solution. And today, we are announcing an app that you can download for free from the app store called COVID Alert NY.”
The app uses Exposure Notification System technology developed by Google and Apple to strengthen New York’s contact tracing programs statewide.
The app 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.
Knowing about a potential exposure can help individuals quickly make a plan to stay safe, including contacting their physician or the State Health Department hotlines to get more information about quarantining and testing to prevent community spread.
COVID Alert NY is anonymous and does not track or collect any location data or personal data from one’s phone, Cuomo said. The COVID Alert app does not use GPS location data.
The Exposure Notification System uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology to detect when another phone with the same app is within six feet. Proximity is measured, but not geographic location.
App users must explicitly choose to turn on exposure notifications, and can turn it off at any time.