NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - In response to this third COVID-19 surge and the threat of variants sending us into another spike, the state health department launched a new app Friday that can anonymously detect if you’ve been exposed to COVID.
It’s called COVID Defense.
“If my hands weren’t full, I’d be downloading it right now,” Jimmy Charles said while shopping on Magazine Street.
The success of the app depends on people actually downloading and using it.
“I think I’d feel more comfortable going out and just being aware of who I was in contact with that could have been positive,” Charles said.
It uses your phone’s Bluetooth to record other people you’ve been in close contact with who also have the app. If they test positive, they can send you a notification.
“I think it’s a little weird that the government is tracking people like that and it’s so intense like that, but I know if my grandma were to go out, it would be nice for her to see,” Alejandra Garcia said.
But here’s the thing, the app is 100 percent anonymous, you don’t even have to create a login. It does not track your location or collect any of your data.
“It definitely makes me feel more comfortable that they’re not going to be tracking my every move,” Garcia said.
“Almost every app on your phone collects more data than this one,” Sam Zimmerman, the CTO of PathCheck which developed the app said.
Zimmerman says the power of privacy is in the app’s simplicity.
“There’s such little data being sent and it has it’s so harmless, it’s random numbers that make no sense unless it’s being compared to our phones or to record them,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman breaks it down like this: Your phone generates a random ID number every 10 to 20 minutes.
The app measures the strength of the Bluetooth connection to determine every time you come into close contact with another user and sends them your ID, while you receive theirs.
“In the event that you are COVID-19 positive, your phone is storing all your random numbers and so you can upload all your random numbers and the other people’s phones pull down those numbers,” Zimmerman explained.
In order to notify everyone, you have to put in the 8-digit code you get from your contact tracer. No one sees anything related to you unless you provide it.
“The Louisiana Department of Health, you know, all they’re doing is just validating those COVID-19 positive results,” Zimmerman said. “It really is a tool network for the people that if people don’t use, we don’t get to realize the power of it.”
The COVID Defense app is available right now for Apple and Android.
It’s completely free and it only takes a few seconds to set up.
Again, none of the data can be used to track you or make you self-isolate. It’s only an anonymous exposure detector.
For more details and FAQ’s visit https://www.coviddefensela.com/.
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