New NC contact-tracing app is ‘powerful tool’ in fight against COVID-19, officials say

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — State leaders are urging people to download a new smartphone app to help with COVID-19 contact tracing. The new tool is called SlowCOVIDNC.

As more places reopen across North Carolina, state leaders said it’s important to stay vigilant.

“This new app gives us another tool to slow the spread of the virus,” said Gov. Roy Cooper.

It’s free to download and operates using Bluetooth technology. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, they get a unique PIN to put in the app. It then notifies other people who were in close contact that also have the app.

“That allows users to quickly act to protect themselves and their loved ones and their communities,” said Dr. Mandy Cohen with North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The state’s partnering with colleges to have students download it. They also want everyone else to download the app.

 “The more people who use it, the better it works,” said Cohen.

Cohen said the app does not collect, use, or share any personal information. It does not have GPS or know your location.

Health experts said contact tracing is key to containing the virus. It can be difficult to do since it can be hard to determine who a person has been around as gatherings resume and places reopen.

Some people don’t return calls from health officials either.

“As we move around more, SlowCOVIDNC is a powerful tool,” said Cohen.

In about a six-week period from June into July when cases were rising fast, a CDC study shows nearly half of contacts in Randolph County and about a quarter of contacts in Mecklenburg County weren’t reached.

An app like SlowCOVIDNC aims to change that.

For more information on downloading the app, go here: https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/slowcovidnc

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