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ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today announced that since the Maryland Department of Health launched MD COVID Alert last week, more than 1 million Marylanders have subscribed to the COVID-19 exposure notifications express system. MD COVID Alert complements traditional contact tracing efforts by using Bluetooth technology to notify a person if they may have been exposed to COVID-19 without compromising the identity or location of users.
“MD COVID Alert is another important tool in our fight against COVID-19 in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “We are encouraging everyone to opt-in, which will help us stop the spread and protect our fellow Marylanders. This incredible response is a testament to the perseverance and vigilance of the people of our state during this unprecedented public health crisis.”
MD COVID Alert was designed to protect the privacy and personal information of users. Those who opt-in remain anonymous, their location is never tracked, and no data is collected from their smartphones. Using Bluetooth technology, the system can detect if two devices are near each other without revealing where the devices are or who they belong to.
Marylanders with an iPhone can opt-in to MD COVID Alert by enabling exposure notifications in their phone’s settings and selecting Maryland as their region. Android users can opt-in by installing the MD COVID Alert app from the Google Play store. MD COVID Alert is available at no cost and is voluntary. Users can disable exposure notifications at any time.
MD COVID Alert assigns users a random number, referred to as a random ID. To ensure these random IDs cannot be used to identify users or their whereabouts, they change every 10 to 20 minutes. User devices exchange the random IDs through Bluetooth low energy technology.
On a daily basis, a user’s phone downloads a list of all the random IDs associated with verified positive COVID-19 cases and checks them against the random IDs users have encountered in the two days prior to the positive test or symptom onset. If there is a match, the system will notify users of the date of exposure. No other information about the exposure is shared. Users who receive an exposure notification alert are advised to get tested, monitor their health for symptoms, and quarantine. Some users may receive a call from a contact tracer if their information is shared by an individual with COVID-19.
MD COVID Alert is not a substitute for traditional contact tracing or preventative public health measures that include mask-wearing, social distancing in public, avoiding large crowds, and frequent handwashing.
For more information about MD COVID Alert, visit covidlink.maryland.gov/mdcovidalert. Learn about Maryland’s contact tracing initiative here. COVID-19 information and resources in Maryland are available at covidlink.maryland.gov and coronavirus.maryland.gov.