With COVID cases on the rise in New Jersey, a growing number of residents are downloading a new app that will tell them if they’ve come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli says the COVID Alert NJ app uses Bluetooth low-energy technology to recognize other mobile devices with the same app. If you come in contact with someone who has also downloaded the app and tested positive for COVID-19, the app will alert you.

When someone tests positive for the virus, they are called by their local health department and given a verification code, which they then enter into their app.

Persichilli said the system is completely anonymous and the government is not monitoring where you go.

“This is not a GPS; no one can track you; there’s no private information that can be shared and your movements cannot be tracked," she said.

She said in this instance “contact” means you have been within 6 feet of the individual who has tested positive for at least 10 minutes.

She said getting the app is important as efforts to slow and stop the spread of the coronavirus continue.

“You’re doing it for yourself and your family. You want to know if you’ve been exposed. You want to know if you need to go to a physician. You want to know if you need to be tested. And if you’re younger, you want to make sure you’re protecting maybe your parents or your grandparents,” she said.

More than 250,000 people have download the app, which also provides users with up-to-date COVID statistics and an opportunity to check-in and report how you are feeling. On Friday, 98% of users reported “feeling good” while 2% said they were experiencing “some symptoms.”

Persichilli added efforts are underway to encourage universities to spread the word about the COVID Alert NJ app and there is also information about it on the New Jersey Department of Health website.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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