Governor Phil Murphy today announced the launch of a new COVID-19 exposure notification mobile app that will serve to supplement the state’s contact tracing efforts. The governor announced the app in partnership with New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and the states will join a regional network that includes Pennsylvania and Delaware to track and alert exposures. Connecticut has also announced it will launch an app in the near future using the same technology.
The free mobile app – available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in New Jersey – is available for download from the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.
The apps use Exposure Notification System technology developed by Google and Apple to strengthen New Jersey and New York’s contact tracing programs statewide. The COVID Alert apps 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 NJ and COVID Alert NY are completely anonymous and do not track or collect any location data or personal data from your phone. The COVID Alert apps do 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. COVID Alert app users must explicitly choose to turn on exposure notifications – and can turn it off at any time.
After downloading the app, users must opt-in to receive “Exposure Notifications.” When the app senses a close contact, your phone will exchange a secure random code with the close contact’s phone. Of note, your location, name or personally identifiable data are never disclosed. If you test positive for COVID-19, a public health representative from the local health department will call as part of the states’ contact tracing programs and ask if you are willing to anonymously notify your “close contacts” by uploading your app’s anonymous close contact codes. Each day, the app will compare your list of close contact codes to the list of codes associated with positive COVID-19 app users. If there’s a match, you will get an Exposure Alert, along with appropriate next steps to stay safe and prevent community spread like self-quarantining and getting tested. COVID Alert apps never reveal the identity of the COVID-19 positive individual.
The COVID Alert NJ app will work in conjunction with similar apps in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania, allowing New Jerseyans to continue to receive exposure notifications when exposed to residents of those states. If a New Jersey resident travels to one of those states and is exposed to someone with COVID-19 who has an equivalent app, the resident will receive a notification.
COVID Alert NJ and COVID Alert NY provide users with the latest information about COVID-19 in their states, including publicly reported testing data. In addition, the app features a symptom checker where users can anonymously record daily symptoms.