New NC DHHS app alerts you to possible COVID-19 exposure

There’s a new app that can alert you to COVID-19 exposure.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services launched the app Tuesday, available for free in the Google Play Store or Apple App Store.

Called SlowCOVIDNC, once you download it, you need to enable Bluetooth and exposure notifications on your smartphone. Your device will then share random IDs with other phones nearby. DHHS said the app is anonymous and the connections are “a string of random letters and numbers which changes every 10-20 minutes,” according to the app.

The app is designed to add to existing contact tracing already in place across the state. The app is voluntary, so the more people who use it, the more interactions between devices.

Bluetooth signal strength is also recorded on your phone to estimate the distance between phones, so exposure follows the definition of “close contact” of six feet or closer for at least 15 minutes. If you are exposed, you will get push notifications.

However, those notifications will only happen if someone who has a positive COVID-19 test shares their results by entering a PIN provided to app users. Notifications will tell others if they were exposed a certain number of days ago, according to DHHS. Location data is not stored.

SlowCOVIDNC is owned by N.C. DHHS but can interact with Google and Apple apps in other states.

DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen called it “another powerful tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19 right in their pockets.”

“Downloading SlowCOVIDNC is a practical step each of us can take to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our state,” Cohen said in a DHHS news release Tuesday.

For more information about the app, visit

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Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan covers North Carolina state government and politics at The News & Observer. She previously covered Durham, and has received 10 North Carolina Press Association awards, including an award for investigative reporting and the McClatchy President’s Award.

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