Minnesota has launched an app that can anonymously notify people if they have come into contact with a COVID-19 positive person.
The app, called “COVIDaware MN,” is available for both Android and iOS devices, and notifies users if they have been near someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Designed with a heavy focus on keeping users anonymous, the app is the result of a partnership between the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), the PathCheck Foundation, and many other organizations.
“What we know is the most dangerous part of this disease is the asymptomatic spread. Especially amongst very mobile and social 18 to 35-year-olds. This is not out of malice, it’s not out of not caring, it’s simply, in many cases, out of ignorance, of not knowing that you’ve been exposed or you have it,” Gov. Tim Walz said during a press briefing Monday.
COVIDaware MN keeps users anonymous and does not ask for identifying information or track movements and locations.
The app notifies users 12-24 hours after a possible exposure, and can do so retroactively, but will only provide a loose timeframe of when exposure happened, not where. Spending 15 minutes within six feet of another user who has reported a positive test is considered possible exposure.
Using the app is voluntary as is reporting test results, which requires a code from the MDH in order to prevent people from abusing the feature.
COVIDaware MN will also connect with apps created by other states participating in a national exposure notification effort. Currently, there are 14 other states with apps.
“So I would encourage everyone, COVIDaware MN, on your app stores, go in, set it up. It’s literally 30 seconds and you’re done, and as I said, my hope is that you never have to use it, you never get a notification,” said Walz. “But if you do, you do that neighborly Minnesota thing and you pass on that anonymous note so that others can make an informed decision for themselves and their families and our workers.”