SlowCOVIDNC Surpasses 100,000 Downloads; State Health Officials Encourage North Carolinians to Use Exposure Notification App

A person holding a mobile phone.
Mark Herlihy

More than 100,000 people have downloaded SlowCOVIDNC, the official exposure notification app of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

SlowCOVIDNC alerts users when they may have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The app relies on users to anonymously submit their positive result to notify others. It is free, completely anonymous and does not collect, store or share personal information or location data.

“This is a great milestone, but we can’t stop here. The more people who download and use SlowCOVIDNC, the more we can slow the spread. And by anonymously notifying the app if you have a positive COVID-19 test, you can help protect your loved ones and your community,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

NCDHHS continues to work with partners and the media to promote SlowCOVIDNC. The SlowCOVIDNC Communications Toolkit is designed to equip local organizations with resources and collateral to promote SlowCOVIDNC.

SlowCOVIDNC leverages Google and Apple’s Exposure Notification System (ENS) and alerts users who have the app if they have been in close range of an individual who later tests positive for COVID-19. It is voluntary to download and use and is designed to enhance the state’s existing contact tracing efforts. The app can be downloaded for free through the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.

Here’s how SlowCOVIDNC works:

  1. Download the free SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store and enable Bluetooth and Exposure Notifications. Bluetooth must be on for the app to work.
  2. After opting-in to receive notifications, the app will generate an anonymous token for the device. A token is a string of random letters which changes every 10-20 minutes and is never linked to identity or location. This protects app user privacy and security.
  3. Through Bluetooth, phones with the SlowCOVIDNC app work in the background (minimizing battery) to exchange these anonymous tokens every few minutes. Phones record how long they are near each other and the Bluetooth signal strength of their exchanges in order to estimate distance.
  4. If an app user tests positive for COVID-19, the individual may obtain a unique PIN to submit in the app. This voluntary and anonymous reporting notifies others who have downloaded the app that they may have been in close contact with someone in the last 14 days who has tested positive.
  5. PINs will be provided to app users who receive a positive COVID-19 test result through a web-based PIN Portal, by contacting the Community Care of North Carolina call center or by contacting their local health department.
  6. SlowCOVIDNC periodically downloads tokens from the server from the devices of users who have anonymously reported a positive test. Phones then use records of the signal strength and duration of exposures with those tokens to calculate risk and determine if an app user has met a threshold to receive an exposure notification.

To learn more about SlowCOVIDNC and to download the app, visit www.covid19.ncdhhs.gov/slowcovidnc, which also includes an FAQ.