As of November 23, Minnesota had over 271,000 lab-confirmed infections and over 3,200 deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  A new app should help everyone track their exposure to the virus.

COVIDaware MN launched Monday and it notifies people when they've been near someone who tested positive for COVID-19, while also protecting the privacy of everyone involved.

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COVIDaware MN uses COVID-19 exposure notification technology developed by Apple and Google in partnership with PathCheck Foundation.  Here's how it works:

  1. Download the free COVIDaware MN app.  This can be done through the iPhone App Store or the Android Google Play Store.
  2. Your phone remembers other devices it meets, but won’t identify you to anyone. Once you opt-in to the notification system, the app will generate an anonymous key for your phone—the key is a random number. To help ensure that these random keys can’t be used to identify you or your location, they change every 10-20 minutes.
  3. Your privacy is protected. No information that will identify you will ever leave your phone. Your phone and the phones around you work anonymously in the background, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to exchange these privacy-protected keys. This is a passive process that begins once you opt-in. It functions without the app open, and it won't drain your battery.
  4.  The app checks for positive COVID-19 cases every day. On a daily basis, your phone downloads a list of all the anonymous keys associated with positive COVID-19 cases and checks them against the list of random keys your phone has encountered in the last 14 days.
  5.  The app will notify you if you may have been exposed to the coronavirus. If there’s a match, the app will notify you with further instructions from the Minnesota Department of Health about what you need to do to keep you and the people around you safe.

An exposure means that you have been near someone who tested positive for COVID-19 for a length of time. Generally, close contact is considered spending a total of 15 minutes in one day within about 6 feet of anyone who has COVID-19.  The COVIDaware MN App uses these guidelines to determine if a user needs to be alerted.

If enough people use the app, it could be help slow down and ultimately break the chain of infection as more people quarantine rather than go on to expose others to the virus.

You can click on the button below to get complete information on the new app, including 'Frequently Asked Questions' and how your privacy is protected while using it.

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