New App Spots COVID Cases Near You

Using Bluetooth technology, the Department of Health’s app tracks the coronavirus to curtail exposure

On Monday, Minnesota officials announced a new effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus with the launch of the COVIDaware MN app. The app uses Bluetooth technology to notify users when theyve been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

How does it work?

To start, if you test positive for COVID, the lab that performed your test will report it to the Minnesota Department of Health. Someone from the state or local department will provide you with a code. You can then enter that code in the app to anonymously notify those you’ve recently been around.

The app only works with other phones that have the app installed, according to a press release. The app will track whether your phone has been within 6 feet of any other device that has had the app installed for at least 15 minutes.

It will not reveal the identity of other users, as devices are identified by a random key number that changes every 10 to 20 minutes. Since the app uses Bluetooth for tracking, rather than GPS technology, location is not shared, either.

If you have been around someone who has tested positive, the app will notify you within 12 to 24 hours after that person reports test results.

At a Monday news conference, Gov. Tim Walz called the app, which is available to anyone who lives in Minnesota, “one of the best ways … for people to know if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.” He continued, “They can then be informed to take all of the proper precautions … to be able to break the chain of spread.”

The app works on iPhones and Android phones, and can be downloaded for free on the App Store or Google Play.

If you receive a positive test result for COVID-19 but havent yet been contacted by the Minnesota Department of Health, call MDH at 651-201-5414 and ask for a positive test verification code for the COVIDaware MN app. They will verify your positive test result and ask how you would like to receive the verification code.