There’s been a slight uptick in the number of positive COVID-19 cases in New York City, and though it’s not time to panic yet, you might want to consider taking some extra precautions.
To help, New York State has released a new contact-tracing app, COVID Alert NY. If you download the free app to your smartphone, you’ll get an alert if you are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or if you were in contact with someone who later tests positive.
Developed by Apple and Google, the app is voluntary and the state said the data it collects is anonymous. It works by using Bluetooth technology to sense other phones nearby that have the app, rather than tracking you by location.
When a person tests positive, the Department of Health contacts that person, who then enters information into the app, which then alerts any other app users that have come within six feet of them. It alerts only for “close contact,” a.k.a. when you spend more than 10 minutes within six feet of someone who is infected, which the state says is long enough to catch the virus. It ignores people you pass by quickly.
The app also contains data tracking the spread of COVID-19 across the state so you can stay informed, as well as information about what to do if you test positive.
Naturally, the more people who use the app, the more effective it will be, so the state is advocating widespread adoption. It’s available to anyone 18 and older who lives, works or goes to school in New York or New Jersey, and is available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Bengali, Korean, Russian and Haitian Creole.
“COVID Alert NY will not alone stop the spread of COVID, but I am hopeful it will play a constructive role as one of several components to our pandemic response strategy,” Julie Samuels of Tech:NYC said in a press release. “Privacy and transparency are ingrained in the app, and I strongly urge everyone to download it.”
Download the app for iPhone or Android here.