This week, Nevada has launched a free contact tracing mobile phone app called COVID Trace, designed to notify users of possible exposure to the novel coronavirus.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) of Nevada has developed the app through a collaboration between Apple and Google. Similar apps have been released earlier in Alabama and Virginia. The app would be considered an incredibly useful tool for a tourist state that has struggled to monitor and keep track of everyone, residents and tourists alike, that comes and goes out of the state since re-opening from lockdown.
COVID Trace automatically exchanges randomized IDs with other nearby phones that also have the app. The user's phone checks periodically all the random IDs associated with positive COVID-19 cases and cross-checks it against its own list. If there is a match, the app will notify the user with further instructions from DHHS on what should they do next in order to stay safe and keep others safe.
Simply put, the app will enable people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to anonymously inform those they previously encountered of potential exposure. It uses Bluetooth scanning and algorithms to determine whether two individuals have had enough close contact to warrant concern.
At a press conference last Friday, the DHHS emphasized the anonymity of the tech, clarifying that no personal information would be collected or stored by the app. Since it is completely voluntary, it however relies on everyone's cooperation to download and use the app for it to be effective.
Employers such as Boyd Gaming Corporation, Caesars Entertainment, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, MGM Resorts International, Wynn Resorts, Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas Raiders, Allegiant Air, Vegas Chamber, Latin Chamber, Top Rank, NV Energy and R&R Partners have all encouraged their employees to download and use the COVID Trace app.
Chair of the Nevada COVID-19 Response, Relief and Recovery Task Force Jim Murren said, "Our resort industry has always been open to addressing complex challenges with innovative solutions. The adoption of COVID Trace is no different, and I'm proud of the way our business community has stepped up to participate in this important effort. The broad adoption of COVID Trace would be a game changer for Nevada, in terms of both public health and economic stability."
Nevada Deputy Administrator of Community Health Services Julia Peek said, "The DHHS created this app so Nevadans can make use of the latest technology to keep themselves and their families safe and fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We strongly recommend that everyone downloads COVID Trace to their phone and begins to use it. By working together and using every tool at our disposal, we can protect our communities and flatten the curve."
The COVID Trace app is absolutely free and now available for both iOS and Android devices.