ALBANY — The NY COVID Alert app unveiled by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo earlier this month, which the governor touted as a technological sport changer for contact tracing, has been downloaded greater than 640,000 occasions — however the governor’s workplace and the Division of Well being have declined to show over extra detailed combination knowledge that might measure the app’s influence.

That extra knowledge, which is a matter of public file, would reveal how efficient the cell app has been in monitoring the unfold of COVID-19 throughout the state, together with alerting individuals who might have are available shut contact with an contaminated individual.

Related variations of the identical app have additionally been rolled out in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. In line with figures offered by these states, the app has been downloaded greater than 50,000 occasions in Delaware , greater than 220,000 occasions in New Jersey and greater than 330,000 occasions in Pennsylvania.

“Thus far, over 630,000 New Yorkers have downloaded the COVID Alert NY app. We encourage all New Yorkers 18+ to obtain the app and we proceed to conduct outreach to communities throughout the state to extend app utilization,” Gary Holmes, a spokesman for the New York Division of Well being, stated in an e-mail. “To guard person privateness and safety, the New York state Division of Well being won’t be disclosing details about particular person notifications or exposures.”

Two days after the app was launched, Cuomo’s Secretary Melissa DeRosa tweeted that the app had been downloaded “over 305,400 occasions.” Within the ensuing 18 days, the app was downloaded by roughly a further 325,000 folks. It is unclear what number of of these people might have deleted or not activated the app.

There are not any legal guidelines prohibiting the state from disclosing what number of exposures or particular person notifications have been documented by the app. The state’s personal internet web page for the app acknowledges that not one of the knowledge requested by the Occasions Union accommodates any private, identifiable details about customers of the app. That additionally calls into query the assertion by Cuomo’s administration that disclosure of the mixture knowledge would violate particular person “person privateness and safety,” until the app is recording that info.

The privateness coverage for the app that is detailed on the state’s Division of Well being web site says that it tracks extra detailed info together with energetic customers, the quantity who’ve uploaded optimistic check outcomes and the quantity who’ve been alerted of shut contact with contaminated people. The governor’s workplace and well being division officers declined to supply these figures, which might assist measure the productiveness of the app that Cuomo’s workplace had stated value about $700,000 to develop, with financing partly from Bloomberg Philanthropies basis and federal funds.

The Cuomo administration’s unwillingness to share the general public knowledge is a part of a sample by the governor’s workplace on releasing knowledge within the ongoing public well being disaster. The governors administration has refused to open up to the variety of nursing residence sufferers who have been contaminated with COVID-19 and transferred to a hospital earlier than dying, as a substitute counting solely those that died inside nursing houses as nursing residence deaths, regardless of calls for from politicians and outdoors teams for the data.

The administration additionally has declined to offered figures on the quantity of private protecting gear and medical provides, together with ventilators, that have been in its stockpiles on the top of the pandemic. Cuomo’s administration spent tons of of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} on medical gear and provides that went unused at a time he had repeatedly claimed that New York might face shortages and front-line staff have been operating brief on masks and different supplies.

Pennsylvania, then again, promptly responded to the Occasions Union with the identical detailed numbers that Cuomo’s workplace declined to supply. In Pennsylvania, with its 330,000 downloads, 107 have uploaded optimistic check outcomes by means of the app — triggering notifications to 22 who have been in sustained shut contact to these folks — three of whom requested calls from the Division of Well being for recommendation, spokeswoman Maggi Mumma emailed the Occasions Union.

“We’re proud that Pennsylvanians are discovering this device to function a useful resource to battle the unfold of COVID-19,” Mumma wrote. “We emphasize that the extra those that obtain the app, the extra profitable it will likely be when notifying of exposures from COVID-19 optimistic people.”

The app, referred to as COVID Alert NY, was developed in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, Google, Apple and different expertise firms, and it is out there for iPhone and Android. It makes use of the Bluetooth service on a cell system to trace when the individual is available in shut proximity — six toes — of others who even have the app. If an individual exams optimistic and uploads their optimistic consequence by means of the app, it alerts others who’ve the app and have been in shut proximity of the contaminated individual for at the least 10 minutes.

State officers stated the app doesn’t monitor particular geographic location and that customers usually are not personally identifiable from the data offered to the well being division. These beneath the age of 18 usually are not allowed to join the app with out clicking that it was licensed by a mother or father or guardian, a choice Holmes stated was made on coverage grounds somewhat than as a result of any legislation prohibited it.

“It’s utilizing expertise actually on a degree it’s by no means been used earlier than,” Cuomo stated on Oct. 1 when the app was introduced. “I believe it’s going to provide, not solely convey contact tracing to a brand new degree, nevertheless it’s going to provide folks consolation.”

However based mostly on the extent of utilization to this point, it is unclear whether or not the app is making a measurable influence on contract tracing.

“, anxiousness could be very excessive. All people’s questioning. I used to be subsequent to this individual … however this could truly offer you some knowledge and info might help cut back anxiousness and that could be a good factor,” Cuomo had stated. “Generally info can enhance anxiousness however that’s extra in my place in life.”

The completely different variations of the app work in live performance, which means if somebody travels from New York by means of Pennsylvania, they’ll nonetheless have the ability to let you know when you have been uncovered to COVID or uncovered others. That could be significantly useful over Thanksgiving and the winter holidays as journey will increase, stated Delaware Public Well being Division communications Director Jill Fredel.

“We maintain discovering new avenues to get the phrase on the market. As states enter the second or third wave – no matter wave that is or some states are clearly virtually in — the immediacy will grow to be extra pronounced,” Fredel stated.

She stated the app helps fill within the gaps of an individual’s reminiscence. When doing contact tracing, individuals who check optimistic should recall the place they’ve been and who they’ve had shut contact with, but when extra folks use the app it takes away the guess work, Fredel stated.

“It’s actually essential to have the ability to flip that round so rapidly and never must rely upon folks’s recollections,” she stated.


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