New app unveiled to track COVID exposures

Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday a new app to help track COVID-19 exposures. The COVIDaware MN app, according to a release, does not track individuals’ locations or their positions relative to one another.

Minnesota is one of 20 states to use similar technology, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“This innovative technology protects the privacy of Minnesotans and collects no data about a user,” said Minnesota’s CIO and Commissioner of Minnesota IT Services, Tarek Tomes.

“If Minnesotans opt in and follow health recommendations when notified of an exposure, we will slow the spread of COVID-19 and be one step closer to returning to many of the activities we miss so much.”

By using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, the user’s phone and the phones of other users they are near anonymously exchange these privacy-protected keys.

If a person receives a positive test, the Department of Health will provide a unique code the person may enter into the app, if they choose.

If they enter the code, users with whom they’ve been within six feet for 15 or more minutes over a 24 hour period in the past 14 days will receive a notification of an exposure.

Minnesotans can learn more about the app on the COVIDaware MN website, and download it today from the Google Play or App Store.

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