The state has developed a new app that will alert users when they come in contact with someone who tests positive.

As the number of positive coronavirus cases rises across the state, officials are asking the public to cooperate with contact tracing efforts. In a press conference from the statehouse in Annapolis on Nov. 17, Governor Larry Hogan said Maryland now has a positive rate of 6.85 percent. He ordered the entire state back to stage two, effectively moving all businesses back to 50 percent capacity. Hogan said one of the areas the state is coming up short fighting the virus is with contact tracing.

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Contact tracing is one of the most effective ways to isolate breakouts and stop the spread of coronavirus. But contact tracers say they are having trouble getting people to cooperate. The Maryland Department of Health said they are only able to get about 50 percent of people with positive cases to respond.

“Our problem is that so many people refuse to give the information, they don’t want to participate," said Governor Hogan. “This is not big brother, we’re not trying to track you, we’re trying to stop the virus and stop you from infecting people you come in contact with.”

Courtesy Maryland Department of Health

On Nov. 10, 2020, the state launched MD COVID Alert, a system that will notify people when they come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. So far, over one million Marylanders have downloaded the app. The app is designed to protect privacy, using random number identifiers that change every 10 to 20 minutes. If you come into contact with someone who has tested positive, you will receive a push notification right to your phone.

“MD COVID Alert complements our traditional contact tracing efforts to notify users of possible exposure to help contain the virus,” said MDH Secretary Robert R. Neall. “I encourage Marylanders to use MD COVID Alert to help protect the people around them, including those they might not know directly.”

To activate MD COVID Alert, go to covidlink.maryland.gov/mdcovidaler. Directions to turn of notifications (iPhone) or download the app Google Play (Android devices) can be found along with information about privacy and contact tracing.