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NJ launches coronavirus contact tracing application

New Jersey, New York, Delaware and Pennsylvania all have compatible contact tracing apps, with Connecticut soon to follow.  – Photo by Pxhere

New Jersey launched COVID Alert NJ, the state’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) contact tracing application yesterday, according to a press release. The app is available to anyone over the age of 18 who lives, works or attends college in New Jersey.

“The more phones that have the app, the better we can fight this pandemic,” Gov. Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) said, according to the release.

The Daily Targum previously reported New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the app is designed to enhance New Jersey’s existing contact tracing program and was piloted last week.

It uses bluetooth technology to detect and log anonymous codes from other devices with the app when the user has been in close contact — within 6 feet for 10 or more minutes — of another individual.

To utilize this app’s services, users must turn on “Exposure Notifications,” which allows the user’s phone to exchange their anonymous code with other nearby users. If a user tests positive for COVID-19, a state contact tracer will notify them and ask if they are willing to submit their app’s close contact codes. 

Each day, the app will compare the codes an individual has come in contact with alongside the codes related to positive cases, according to the release. In the event of a match, the user will get an “Exposure Alert” along with next steps, including quarantine and testing information. 

The app uses "Exposure Notification System" technology, which must be manually turned on and can be deactivated at any time. To maintain privacy, the app only monitors the proximity of users, not actual GPS locations. All personal information is kept private and those with positive cases remain anonymous when the app notifies other users, according to the release.

New York also announced its own version of the app yesterday and Connecticut is in the process of creating a similar app, according to the release. Pennsylvania and Delaware already created similar apps, and each app is compatible with one another. This means New Jerseyans who come in contact with out-of-state individuals using their state-specific app will still be notified in the event of a positive case.

“Over the course of our public health emergency, we’ve called for a shared sense of personal responsibility to support our contact tracing efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Murphy said. “With the launch of COVID Alert NJ and our regional app network, New Jerseyans and residents in our neighboring states can support our fight against COVID-19 simply by downloading an application on their phone."

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