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Health Team

More than 39,000 download NC coronavirus exposure tracking app

Posted September 22, 2020 10:05 a.m. EDT
Updated September 24, 2020 8:56 a.m. EDT

NCDHHS unveils COVID-19 exposure tracking app

— The state Department of Health and Human Services launched a free app Tuesday that alerts people when they may have been exposed to coronavirus.

By Thursday morning, the app had been downloaded 39,197 times.

The app, called SlowCOVIDNC, uses Google and Apple's Exposure Notification System (ENS) to alert users if they have been in close contact with someone who later tested positive for the virus.

According to DHHS, the app is anonymous and does not collect, store or share personal information or location data.

"With the SlowCOVIDNC app, North Carolinians have another powerful tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19 right in their pockets," Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of DHHS, said in a statement. "Downloading SlowCOVIDNC is a practical step each of us can take to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our state."

SlowCOVIDNC can be downloaded to Apple and Android devices, but Bluetooth must be turned on and notifications must be enabled for the app to work. The app does not use geolocation or GPS data.

How it works

  • Users must download the app, enable Bluetooth and allow "exposure notifications."
  • Once a user allows notifications, the app will generate an ID "token," or a string of random letters, every 10 to 20 minutes to protect the user's identity, location and security.
  • Using Bluetooth, phones with the SlowCOVIDNC app exchange anonymous tokens every few minutes, recording how long people are near each other and the Bluetooth signal strength of their exchanges in order to estimate distance.
  • If an app user tests positive for coronavirus, the individual may obtain a unique PIN through a web-based portal to submit in the app.
  • By voluntary and anonymous reporting their status, people who have been in close contact with the user in the last 14 days will receive an alert.
  • Once a person tests positive and anonymously submits his or her result, the phone will use records of past signal strength and duration of exposures to notify any users who may have been exposed.
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