By Milan Flagler & Lila Nolan
Staff Writer, Staff Writer
New York Gov. Cuomo and New Jersey’s Gov. Murphy launched the COVID Alert NY application on Thursday, Oct. 1. The app has been made available on the app and google play store. This anonymous, voluntary exposure notification app alerts the user if they are in close contact with another user who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The COVID Alert 19 is available for citizens over the age of 18 living in N.Y. and N.J. The goal of the application is to keep the citizens of both states knowledgeable to their potential exposure to the virus. This is hoped to reduce the chance of potential risk, increase an unwarranted self-quarantine, and encourage those who feel they might have been exposed to go out and take a test. COVID Alert even has an exposure notification service that activates a closeness sensing feature that uses Bluetooth technology to alert the user if an exposed person is in the vicinity.
N.Y. COVID Data is an app feature that displays total percent, percent, and total persons tested within a month period, along with the occurrences in testing over a daily figure and seven-day average. The Health Log feature allows users to keep track of their health by storing a history of their symptoms. Logs are kept anonymous from other app users while assisting public health researchers in fact on how the virus is affecting N.Y. and N.J.
The COVID Alert app is suggested to be looked at as another safety protocol for the citizens of N.Y. and N.J. It has even been projected that if everyone downloaded the app and proceeded properly, positive cases would decrease. It is a way to protect the community while maintaining a sense of personal security due to the anonymity feature.
Post students have expressed concern over the privacy matters of the application.
“It might sound a little invasive if you don’t read the fine print, but I think it’s fine,” first-semester graduate student Megan Settinger said. “None of my personal
information will be released, so I don’t see anything wrong with it. I appreciate the health log; I can track my symptoms easily without having to get on the phone with my expensive doctor. Plus, it helps researchers stay up to date with the virus. Whatever it takes to help us get back to normal faster, I’ll do it.”
Some students believe the COVID Alert App is an invasion of privacy.
“I see more potential problems arising with the applications sensing services,” first-year master’s in social work student Danielle Kerr said. “I feel this can lead to higher cases of discrimination towards those who might have been exposed in public, leading them to get kicked out of certain spaces and not enjoying certain past-times they normally do. This breach of privacy is almost like the HIV situation, where somebody proposed that those living with HIV should get a tattoo symbolizing, they have HIV. You cannot brand people for ailments. There are some people in this world who feel it is necessary to take things into their own hands and cause emotional harm, or worse, physical violence.”
Cuomo encourages users to download the app to ensure its effectiveness.
“I understand the initial concern people may have when it comes to this app breaching their privacy, but if you think about it: it seems to be a small price to pay considering most people have social media on their phones that exposes their daily actions and content anyways,” senior and forensic science major Jahdai Hart-Hernandez said. “If everyone agreed to use this app properly and proactively, this could be a really good thing. We’re all on our phones already, might as well make it constructive.”
The COVID Alert app is the government’s latest innovation to stop the spread and effects of the coronavirus. For more information regarding the COVID19 Alert app, visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov.