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New COVID-19 mobile app could help slow the spread

Louisianans are being encouraged to download the app, that works anonymously

NEW ORLEANS — Louisianans are encouraged to download a new mobile app to help in the fight against COVID-19. 

The technology has proven successful in other states like Massachusetts, Alabama and Hawaii. So how does it work?

After months of work, the Louisiana Department of Health released their "COVID Defense" mobile app. It's a new way, Dr. Joseph Kanter, says we can help slow the spread.

"Coming out of the Christmas and New Year's surge, and looking ahead to this UK variant, which is now confirmed in Louisiana and will start growing, we think we need every tool available," he said.

Free and found in the iOS App Store and Google Play, all you have to do is download it. Your phone will do the rest.

"If you were to come within six feet, for 15 minutes or longer of another phone that's belongs to someone who's positive, it'll ping," Dr. Kanter said. "And the way the phone knows someone is positive is the contact tracers, when they contact you will push you a code that you put into your phone."

The app is anonymous and doesn't collect any personal data or track your whereabouts. After it's downloaded, no information is asked or needed either. It instead works like if you were to connect your phone to a pair of wireless headphones.

"All it does with our Bluetooth puts out a six-foot radius of other phones around you," Dr. Kanter said. "I think it's going to be particularly helpful on college campuses and workplace settings, where it might be hard to do contact tracing."

This technology doesn't guarantee or prevent exposure. However, Dr. Kanter says this is one piece of the puzzle that can make a difference.

"Often times you might not know you've come into contact with someone and know their name, number, or some other reason communicated with a contact tracer, this solves that," he said.

The app was created in partnership with Google and a non-profit.  So far, about 30,000 Louisianans and counting have downloaded it.

For more information go here.

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