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Gov. Doug Burgum and the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) in partnership with ProudCrowd, creators of the popular Bison Tracker app, has launched a free mobile app, Care19, to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in North Dakota.  

This app will help the NDDoH reduce the spread of COVID-19 by more efficiently and effectively identifying individuals who may have had contact with people who have tested positive. Once the app is downloaded, individuals will be given a random ID number and the app will anonymously cache the individual’s locations throughout the day. Individuals are then encouraged to categorize their movement into different groups such as work or grocery. The app will only store the location of any place a person visits for 10 minutes or more, and the ID number of each individual contains no personal information besides location data.  

If an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will be given the opportunity to consent to provide their information to the NDDoH to help in contact tracing and forecasting the pandemic’s progression with accurate, real-time data.  

“This is an opportunity for North Dakotans to be leaders in the worldwide response to COVID-19,” said Burgum. “Our goal is for at least 50,000 North Dakotans to download the app. The more people who participate, the more helpful the data will be. The aggregated information this app is gathering can save lives. Embracing this technology is one more way we can show that we’re all in this together.”   

The NDDoH has worked tirelessly to track COVID-19 cases, and about 250 people have jumped in to help ramp up efforts. Despite all the cooperation, this manual process is very time-consuming and not 100 percent accurate. Through a public-private partnership, the Care19 app will dramatically improve the state’s contact tracing abilities.

If individuals are categorizing movements, the NDDoH will be able to get a more accurate understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading – whether due to traveling, community spread or close contact spread – and where potential clusters are located.   

“We are extremely excited that our work on the Bison Tracker could be reshaped to quickly support the fight against COVID-19”, said ProwdCrowd CEO Tim Brookins. “Big thanks to Governor Burgum and his team, as well as my Microsoft co-workers who helped me bring Care19 to life.”  

The first roll-out of the app is now available at the Apple App store and coming soon for Android users.

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