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Connecticut's COVID Exposure App Tops 600,000 Downloads Days After Release

Harriet Jones
Connecticut Public Radio

The state’s new covid exposure app for cellphones has reached over 600,000 downloads in less than a week.  Launched last Thursday, the app for iPhone and Android systems lets people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Josh Geballe, the governor’s chief operating officer, said that unfortunately state officials got a chance to test it out right away when Gov. Ned Lamont’s press secretary, Max Reiss, tested positive on Friday night.

“Several of the people who had been identified by being in close contact with Max did receive a notification, so it works,” said Geballe.

On some iPhones, all users have to do is go to settings and turn on exposure notifications.

“It starts tracking who you’ve been around using Bluetooth functionality,” said Geballe. “If someone you’ve been near -- within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more -- tests positive and they type in a code, you’ll get an anonymous notification on your phone alerting you, and you can get information on what to do.”

Geballe said the goal is to have enough people download it to help break the chain of virus transmission.

“Apple and Google indicate we really want to get 15 percent of the population activated to see some public health benefits, and we’ve already passed this in less than a week,” said Geballe.

He said the state waited a little longer than some others to debut the app to make sure there were no privacy concerns. 

David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, said the organization has been taking a look at a lot of COVID tracing apps locally and nationally.

“It looks like some of the proximity tracking does safeguard people’s privacy, and there is not centralized information that would really undermine people’s privacy in a profound way,” said McGuire. 

He said that the ACLU believes there is no reason to trade civil liberties for public health and that he’s cautiously optimistic Connecticut’s app can help without compromising security. 

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