Burgum: new, free app can help our contact tracing teams with virus | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Burgum: new, free app can help our contact tracing teams with virus

Apr 7, 2020

At his daily briefing today, Governor Doug Burgum said he is pleased with North Dakota's testing rate for COVID-19. He says the state is getting into a good position to handle a surge of patients who fall ill with the novel cornavirus.

Burgum says yesterday's positive testing rate was 2.4 percent, which is below the state's usual average. He says 18 of the state's 2,600 hospital beds are currently being utilized for COVID-19 patients, and because the spread of the disease is manageable and slowing, the state has more time to continue developing its health capacity surge plan. Burgum also says the White House health advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, says states following guidelines like the ones North Dakota has in place are seeing success in slowing the spread.

Burgum also announced the release of a new app designed to help the public get involved and aid contact tracing teams when it comes to notifying people who may have been exposed to the virus.

"We would love to have tens of thousands of North Dakotans download and start using this, because this will be a great supportive tool to help protect you, your family, your loved ones, and help our contact tracers be much more productive."

The app is called CARE19. Tim Brookins of Proud Crowd is a developer of CARE19, and he says the app uses anonymous data to log where you've been and for how long, so contact tracers can efficiently find where a patient was exposed to the virus.

"Privacy concerns: you never enter your name, you don't enter a passoword, you don't enter an email, we don't know who you are. When you install the app, the app creates a random 36 digit number and any data that gets sent to our servers is associated with that random number. And so we don't know who you are, we simply get some positions related to the random number. If we detect that you go somewhere and then stop for at least 15 minutes and then leave, all of a sudden you will see an item appear in your visited places screen. If you go somewhere else for 15 minutes, you'll see another place come up."

The app will be available for iPhone users by this evening. Burgum says a version for Android users should be ready by next week.