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COVID Alert NJ: Overview
What is COVID Alert NJ?
COVID Alert NJ is a New Jersey's free, and secure mobile app that anonymously alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The app also provides users with up-to-date information on New Jersey reopening news, key COVID-19 metrics, and a user-friendly symptom tracking tool. COVID Alert NJ uses Bluetooth proximity technology. The app will never record any identifying data. All users will remain anonymous.
Where can I download COVID Alert NJ?
How can an exposure notification app help in the fight against COVID-19?
The app is free, easy to use, entirely voluntary and protects the user's privacy and data while providing them with critical information, including whether or not they've potentially been exposed to COVID-19 and what steps to take to protect others. New Jersey's exposure notification app, COVID Alert NJ, is an additional tool in New Jersey's efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19.
How does COVID Alert NJ work?
COVID Alert NJ uses Bluetooth proximity technology and works through an underlying system developed by Google and Apple. A user's app detects and logs Bluetooth devices that have been within six feet of the user for 15 minutes or more within a 24-hour period. These devices then exchange anonymous codes ("random codes"). If one of the users tests positive within the next 14 days, they will be contacted by a public health representative working at the local health department and provided with a validation code. After a positive user enters the validation code into the app, the app will retrieve all of the random codes collected over the preceding 14 days and will send an anonymous notification to those individuals who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19.
What are the benefits of using COVID Alert NJ?
New Jerseyans should use COVID Alert NJ:
- To be alerted if they have been in close contact with another app user who has tested positive for COVID-19 – even if that person is a stranger
- To track their symptoms and get advice on what to do to protect themselves and others
- To be able to anonymously warn other app users whom they were in close contact with, if they tested positive for COVID-19 – especially for people who they forget to have met and/or whose identity they do not know (e.g., at public places, bus/train ride)
- To monitor the latest information and statistics related to the COVID-19 pandemic
- To reach DOH public health representatives to help connect them to support (this feature will be included post-launch)
Does COVID Alert NJ track a user's location?
COVID Alert NJ does not use, track, or collect any geolocation or GPS data. It works exclusively through Bluetooth proximity detection.
I live or work in multiple states that have an Exposure Notification app - which app should I download?
You only need to download one COVID Alert app from your state of residence. NJ, NY, DE, and PA have worked together as a region to ensure all COVID Alert apps will work across the states with an app. So for New Jerseyans, we encourage you to add your phone to the COVID fight and download COVID Alert NJ!
What's the difference between the COVID Alert NJ app and the Exposure Notification (EN) service setting on my iPhone?
They are both part of COVID Alert NJ exposure notifications.
The COVID Alert NJ app can be downloaded and installed on your compatible phone. The app icon will appear on your screen like any other app, and offers many features beyond just exposure notifications.
The Exposure Notification service is a setting that Apple built into operating systems for compatible iPhones, so users nationwide can enable it once their state has opted in. There is nothing to download or install, and users can choose to enable the setting, choose the region they live in, and COVID Alert NJ automatically begins working in the background.
The app and the Exposure Notification service work the same way. They both use Bluetooth Low Energy and random codes to notify you if you may have been exposed to someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, and they both allow you to voluntarily submit a positive test result to inform others you may been close to.
Your privacy is always protected, whether you're using the app or the setting on your phone. COVID Alert NJ NEVER collects any personally identifying information, never knows your location, and never shares it with the State of New Jersey, public health authorities, Apple, or Google.
What should I expect when I download the app or enable the Exposure Notification setting?
When you download the app or enable the EN services setting, and allow notifications, the COVID Alert NJ system will start working right away silently in the background. COVID Alert NJ will generate a privacy-protecting "random code" for your phone. To ensure these "codes" can't be used to identify you or your location, they change every 10-20 minutes.
Your phone and the phones around you work anonymously in the background, using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to exchange these privacy-protected codes. This is a passive process that begins once you opt-in. It functions without the app open, and won't drain your battery.
Every day, your phone downloads a list of all the codes associated with positive COVID-19 cases and checks them against the list of codes it came across in the last 14 days. If there is a match, COVID Alert NJ determines which phones were close enough for long enough, then sends an exposure notification to those phones.