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Minnesotans turn to new COVID-19 exposure app as surge in cases continue

Gov. Tim Walz announced that more than 230,000 Minnesotans have downloaded the COVID-19 exposure app COVIDaware MN since it was rolled out on Nov. 23.

With COVID-19 numbers continuing to surge throughout the metro area, Gov. Tim Walz announced that more than 230,000 Minnesotans have downloaded the COVID-19 exposure app COVIDaware MN since it was rolled out on Nov. 23.

According to a press release, within two days of the app's launch, it reached the No. 3 most popular utilities app in the iPhone App Store.

“Every community is safer when we collectively take steps to care for each other during this pandemic,” said Gov. Walz in the release. “Strong adoption of this important tool will make sure Minnesotans have as much information about potential exposure as possible so they can help protect the people around them, even those they don’t know.” 

The free app uses exposure notification technology developed by Apple and Google. According to its description in the App Store, it exchanges anonymous Bluetooth keys with other app users when you're within 6 feet of each other. The app was built with open-source software from the PathCheck Foundation, a nonprofit founded at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to Walz.

The app's description emphasizes privacy, stating that no information from your use of the app can be traced back to you.

If you test positive for COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will give you a unique code. If you enter the code into the app, other users who were recently near you will be anonymously notified. A notification will only be sent if the person was within 6 feet of you for 15 minutes or more in a 24-hour period, in the 14 days leading up to the positive test.

According to the release, eight universities and colleges as well as multiple health organizations have partnered up to encourage Minnesotans to use the app.

To learn more about the app, visit the COVIDaware MN website. The app can be downloaded from the Google Play or App Store.