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Contact tracing apps use anonymous data to tell users if they encountered someone who has COVID-19. Here's how it works and how to make it effective. USA TODAY

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ALBANY - A new regional app will alert residents in several Northeastern states if they have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

The app, called COVID Alert, has already launched in Pennsylvania and some other states, but New York worked with Bloomberg Philanthropies, Google and Apple to develop the system for more states.

Apple devices: Download the COVID Alert app

Android devices:Download the COVID Alert app

It will be available in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware and soon in Connecticut. In New York, the app is called "COVID Alert NY."

If you download the app, it will alert you if you've been in contact with a COVID positive person for more than 10 minutes.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative Thursday, saying it will not infringe on anyone's privacy and doesn't reveal personal information.

It will, however, help track COVID cases and better allow contact tracing so people can self-isolate and quarantine if they believe they have been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

"It's a great tool to alert you if you happen to be within six feet of a person who tests positive," Cuomo said. 

He added, "I think it’s not only going to bring contact tracing to another level, but give people comfort."

The app will be available for download starting Thursday on Apple and Android devices, state officials said.

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