Frequently Asked Questions

Read the FAQs to learn more about SlowCOVIDNC.

FAQs

What is the SlowCOVIDNC app?

What is the SlowCOVIDNC app?

SlowCOVIDNC is the official COVID-19 Exposure Notification app for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS). It leverages Bluetooth technology to let app users know if they may have been exposed to COVID-19, enabling them to quickly act to protect themselves and their community. SlowCOVIDNC users can anonymously share a positive COVID-19 test result through the app to notify other app users who may have been in close contact with them of their exposure.

How will the SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification app work?

How will the SlowCOVIDNC Exposure Notification app work?

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 your device. A token is a string of random letters which changes every 10-20 minutes and is never linked to your identity or location, but is linked to date. This protects your privacy and security.

3. Through Bluetooth, your phone and the phones around you 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 you test positive for COVID-19, you 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 (CCNC) call center, or by contacting their Local Health Department (LHD).

6. SlowCOVIDNC periodically downloads tokens from the server from the devices of users who have anonymously reported a positive test. Your phone then uses its records of the signal strength and duration of exposures with those tokens to calculate risk and determine if you have met a threshold to receive an Exposure Notification.

Watch a training demo video on YouTube.

How can Exposure Notification apps help fight COVID-19?

How can Exposure Notification apps help fight COVID-19?

A key tool to slow the spread of COVID-19 is right in your pocket! The SlowCOVIDNC app quickly notifies you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, allowing you to reduce the risk of illness for you and your loved ones by providing you with NCDHHS recommendations on how to self-quarantine and when to get tested. SlowCOVIDNC complements traditional contact tracing because it can notify individuals when they may have had an unknown community exposure to COVID-19.

Can the SlowCOVIDNC app protect me from COVID-19?

Can the SlowCOVIDNC app protect me from COVID-19?

The SlowCOVIDNC app is designed to notify you of potential exposure to COVID-19 and provide necessary public health guidance on checking symptoms, isolating or quarantining, testing and accessing support.

Does the app use any of my personal identifiable information? How does the app protect my privacy?

Does the app use any of my personal identifiable information? How does the app protect my privacy?

No, SlowCOVIDNC does not collect or share personally identifying or location information, but does share information about the date of potential exposures. The app is designed to protect your privacy.

Does the app use my location?

Does the app use my location?

No, SlowCOVIDNC never accesses your location. The Exposure Notification System is based on Bluetooth technology and does not collect any geolocation or GPS data. Note: On Android devices, location unfortunately does need to be on for Bluetooth to work, even though location is not used by the app.

Does the use of of face coverings influence whether an Exposure Notification is shared?

Does the use of of face coverings influence whether an Exposure Notification is shared?

SlowCOVIDNC does not account for the use of masks or face coverings in the notification process. Even if a face mask is worn, you may be considered a close contact under CDC guidance. Learn more about the CDC's latest guidance.

Am I required to download the SlowCOVIDNC app?

Am I required to download the SlowCOVIDNC app?

No, participation in Exposure Notification is completely voluntary. However, the more people that actively participate, the more we can slow the spread of COVID-19.

How does the SlowCOVIDNC app know if I’m infected with COVID-19?

How does the SlowCOVIDNC app know if I’m infected with COVID-19?

The SlowCOVIDNC app relies on you to voluntarily report if you have tested positive for COVID-19. The app will then anonymously notify other app users that may have been in close contact with you in the prior 14 days.

When a person is notified of potential exposure to COVID-19, is that individual provided with a date/time of the exposure?

When a person is notified of potential exposure to COVID-19, is that individual provided with a date/time of the exposure?

The individual will receive an alert which indicates potential exposure a specified number of days ago. No other information is collected or shared to protect the privacy of the person who tested positive.

What should I do if I receive a potential Exposure Notification?

What should I do if I receive a potential Exposure Notification?

If you receive an Exposure Notification, you should stay home and away from others, including people in your household, (quarantine at home) for 14 days after your exposure. You should get tested for COVID-19 immediately if you have symptoms or about 6 days after your exposure if you feel well, per NCDHHS guidance. It is recommended that you self-quarantine for the full 14 days after your last known exposure to COVID-19, even if you test negative, because it can take up to 14 days for the infection to develop. It is especially important that you wear a mask over your mouth and nose when you are around other people.

Will I get a call from my local health department? How does the local health department know to call me if the app is anonymous?

Will I get a call from my local health department? How does the local health department know to call me if the app is anonymous?

You may also receive a phone call from your local health department to notify you of exposure to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19. Please answer this important phone call as a part of traditional contact tracing. Your local health department may have more specific information about your exposure, and you should follow their instructions. While the app is anonymous, you can still be identified as being potentially exposed through traditional contact tracing conducted by the local health department.

What if I don’t get a call from my local health department?

What if I don’t get a call from my local health department?

Even if you don’t get a call from your local health department, you should self-quarantine.

Who owns the SlowCOVIDNC app?

Who owns the SlowCOVIDNC app?

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) owns the app.

Who provides the guidance and instructions within the app?

Who provides the guidance and instructions within the app?

Any instructions and guidance for app users will be provided by NCDHHS, in partnership with Local Health Departments and epidemiology experts and in accordance with CDC guidelines.

Does the SlowCOVIDNC app work outside the state of North Carolina?

Does the SlowCOVIDNC app work outside the state of North Carolina?

Yes. The SlowCOVIDNC app communicates with apps from other states that are using the Google and Apple technology platform. So, if a SlowCOVIDNC app user is in close contact with someone using another state’s app (whether in NC or while traveling in another state), they will receive an Exposure Notification alert.

What are the storage requirements on the smartphone for the SlowCOVIDNC app, tokens, etc.? Is there a minimum amount of free storage on the smartphone that users must have?

What are the storage requirements on the smartphone for the SlowCOVIDNC app, tokens, etc.? Is there a minimum amount of free storage on the smartphone that users must have?

Downloading the SlowCOVIDNC app takes up 10 MB of space, which is less storage than the average app requires.

Who determines when a notification (i.e. time, distance) is triggered?

Who determines when a notification (i.e. time, distance) is triggered?

The criteria are based on CDC guidance and specifications. The current definition for close contact is a distance of 6 feet or less for a duration of 15 minutes or longer.

For students living on campus in high-density residence halls, do the walls block the Bluetooth signal or could students living in adjacent quarters be flagged as a close contact?

For students living on campus in high-density residence halls, do the walls block the Bluetooth signal or could students living in adjacent quarters be flagged as a close contact?

It depends. A wall could be strong enough to diminish the Bluetooth signals, but it varies based on the types of materials used in the building construction.

Are out-of state-students able to participate?

Are out-of state-students able to participate?

Anyone who downloads the SlowCOVIDNC app can use it and participate. However, only one Exposure Notification app may be active at a time.

Note: only approved Beta testers will be able to download the Beta version.

Do I have to leave SlowCOVIDNC open at all times for the app to work?

Do I have to leave SlowCOVIDNC open at all times for the app to work?

No. Even if the app is closed, it will still work in the background as long as Bluetooth and notifications are turned on.

Where will I be able to download the SlowCOVIDNC app?

Where will I be able to download the SlowCOVIDNC app?

The SlowCOVIDNC app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store for iOS users and the Google Play Store for Android users.

Why does Android require you to turn on your location setting, when the SlowCOVIDNC app doesn’t use location information?

Why does Android require you to turn on your location setting, when the SlowCOVIDNC app doesn’t use location information?

On Android devices, location needs to be enabled for Bluetooth to work, even though location is not used by the app.

Will this work with a smartwatch or a tablet that is Bluetooth enabled?

Will this work with a smartwatch or a tablet that is Bluetooth enabled?

No. The Exposure Notification technology was designed specifically for smartphones. It is not supported on smartwatches or tablets.

Do I need to be connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection for SlowCOVIDNC to work?

Do I need to be connected to Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection for SlowCOVIDNC to work?

The exchange of anonymous tokens between users is done over Bluetooth and does not require Wi-Fi or a cellular data connection. As long as Bluetooth is turned on, your phone will continue to exchange tokens with others. Other app functionality, including PIN submission, downloading positive token to receive notifications, and the More Information, do require a Wi-Fi or cellular data connection to work. Standard rates will apply based on your individual data plan. We recommend using Wi-Fi for token downloads when available.

What if people submit false test reports in the app?

What if people submit false test reports in the app?

To prevent users from submitting false test results, the SlowCOVIDNC app requires users to confirm their positive test result using a PIN provided by contacting the Community Care of North Carolina (CCNC) call center, through a web-based portal, or by contacting their Local Health Department (LHD).

What phones and operating systems can use SlowCOVIDNC?

What phones and operating systems can use SlowCOVIDNC?

iPhone users can use SlowCOVIDNC if your iPhone has iOS version 13.5 or above. The following iPhones support iOS 13.5: 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, Xr, Xs, Xs Max, X, SE (2nd generation), 8, 8 Plus, 7, 7 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus, SE (1st generation).

Android users can use SlowCOVIDNC if your Android smartphone supports Bluetooth Low Energy and Android Version 6 (API 23) or above. Note that you will not be able to install and use SlowCOVIDNC if your phone does not meet these requirements.

Who can I contact if I have questions?

Who can I contact if I have questions?

Please email us at NCHealthIT@dhhs.nc.gov with any questions about SlowCOVIDNC.

What do I do if my PIN isn't working?

What do I do if my PIN isn't working?

If your PIN is not working, please call 844-628-7223 and press option 9 or email us at NCHealthIT@dhhs.nc.gov to resolve the issue.

If I participated in Beta testing, do I need to uninstall the Beta app and install the new official app?

If I participated in Beta testing, do I need to uninstall the Beta app and install the new official app?

Yes, Beta testers will need to uninstall the Beta app once the testing period is complete and reinstall the official app once it is live.

I forgot to turn Bluetooth on, can I still get Exposure Notifications?

I forgot to turn Bluetooth on, can I still get Exposure Notifications?

No. The app relies on Bluetooth technology to exchange tokens with other app users, so Bluetooth must be turned on in order for Exposure Notifications to work properly.