New smartphone app tells New Yorkers if they’ve been exposed to coronavirus

Albany, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today a new smartphone app is available that will tell New Yorkers if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

Smartphone users who download the free app, called “Covid Alert NY,” will be notified if they have been within six feet of an infected person for at least 10 minutes.

“It’s using technology on a level it’s never been used before,” Cuomo said in a telephone press briefing.

Cuomo said the new app is voluntary and anonymous. It can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

The state Health Department will contact people who have tested positive and ask them to anonymously participate in the smartphone contract tracing program. New Yorkers who are notified by the app that they have been exposed will be directed to quarantine, stay home and call a doctor.

The app was developed by Apple, Google and other technology companies for about $700,000. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the federal government picked up the cost.

The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be, Cuomo said.

Melissa DeRosa, a Cuomo aide, said the app does not track a user’s location or movement, nor does it use GPS. It also does not collect or store personal information, she said. It uses bluetooth technology to send proximity to another phone with the same app, but not geographic location.

It’s available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works or goes to school in New York state. Cuomo said the app will also be available for residents of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Connecticut.

James T. Mulder covers health and higher education. Have a news tip? Contact him at (315) 470-2245 or [email protected]

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