NC Officials Unveil New App to Slow COVID Spread

In Buzz, September 2020, Web Exclusive by Jane PorterLeave a Comment

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WEB EXCLUSIVE Gov. Roy Cooper and NC DHHS secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen announced today that a new, free app designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Carolina is available for the state’s residents to download to their Apple and Google mobile devices. 

SlowCOVIDNC uses Bluetooth technology to let users know if they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 so they can act quickly to protect others, Cohen explained during a press conference. If someone tests positive for the virus, they get a unique, randomly generated pin to submit into the app. A voluntary, anonymous reporting system notifies other phones using the app that were in close contact with one another that they may have been exposed in the last 14 days. 

“That allows users to quickly act to protect themselves and their loved ones and their communities,” Cohen said. “If you need to isolate or quarantine, the app can connect you with guidance, on checking symptoms and getting support.”

Cohen emphasized that the app does not collect, use or share any personal information, use GPS or know the user’s location. 

“It uses an anonymous string of characters that change every 10 to 20 minutes to represent your phone,” Cohen said. “They never link to you identity or location, only to the date and time.” 

Gov. Cooper said key COVID metrics in the state have stabilized to the degree that, on October 2, he expects to take another step in reopening if the progress holds. Large event venues (ones that hold 10,000 people or more) could reopen at 7 percent capacity and Cooper says he is sharing the news now so that these venues can begin preparing. 

“We will continue analyzing our data and indicators as we determine how to move forward safely in other areas that may be included in the new order on October 2,” Cooper said. “In it we hope to ease some other restrictions while keeping in place safety protocols like masks and social distancing.”

The state will also launch a rent, utility and mortgage relief initiative to assist small businesses that lost revenue this year using $40 million in federal CARES Act funding.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, powering our local communities and giving back in so many ways,” Cooper said. “They deserve our support and this new initiative can help them weather this tough time.”

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