Beta-Testing Governor Phil Murphy’s COVID-19 Tracking App Where Gender Classification is Really Important

Governor Phil Murphy today launched a new COVID-19 tracking app that will let you know if somebody around you has or has had COVID-19.  It works like this. You download the app, “COVID Alert NJ” from the Google or Apple app stores, then you check-in and let the app know how you’re feeling…and whether you’re straight or gay…and what gender you identify yourself as.  It’s that simple.

So far, 27,827 New Jerseyeans have downloaded and installed the app with 10,734 check-ins.  So far, 98% of those who checked in said they were feeling just fine as of 5 p.m.

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“We have a very exciting announcement that has taken a lot of work and it’s really creative and smart and I think it can make a big difference. This is a technology-based contact tracing app. Testing is only as good as your contact tracing,” said Governor Cuomo. “Testing is to identify a person, so you can isolate and quarantine that person and then find the connections from that person, and that’s contact tracing. We have about 15,000 people statewide who do contact tracing, they call them disease detectives. But we’ve been looking for a technology-based solution. And today, we are announcing an app that you can download for free from the app store called COVID Alert NY.”

To start your daily COVID-19 check-in you have to provide the app with your county, age, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.   Your ethnicity can either be “Hispanic-Latino” or … well not Hispanic or Latino.

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When it comes to gender identity, there are a lot more choices than race, such as none, prefer to self-describe, a female, male, transgender, transgender woman, transgender man, or non-binary third gender.  We went with “self-describe”, but it didn’t give an opportunity to self-describe.

We tested the app with some sample data on our health, good temperature, runny nose, headache, aches and cramps, fatigue.  All common symptoms of the seasonal allergies I’ve been battling for the past 40 years or so.

Once entering the data, the app said I am suffering from mild COVID-19…not seasonal allergies and I should go get tested right away.   If I didn’t want to get tested, I should call a doctor right away.   The app tells me six of my symptoms are COVID-19 related, so going forward, we’ll see what happens.  See if a contact tracer calls, if other phones go off when I’m in their vicinity and more. Again, all of the data entered was truthful and just everyday symptoms of being somebody with really bad seasonal allergies on any given day.

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Murphy tells us it’s our shared sense of personal responsibility to use the app and feed it personal data all day, but we can expect a COVID-19 tracer to call us based on our answers…on the phone…which is easily tracked to a person with many online reverse phone number lookups.

Stay tuned for more information and an update to see how it works once the state thinks you have COVID-19