What to know about the expansion of the COVIDaware MN notification system:

  • Beginning on January 11, some Minnesota iPhone users will be able to enable COVID-19 exposure notifications on a system level
  • The notifications are voluntary and do not require downloading the COVIDaware MN app
  • No personal information is collected, location is not tracked, and personal identity is not shared with other users or companies
  • The notifications are available for iOS 12.5 or 13.7 and higher

The Quote: Governor Tim Walz

“Knowing when you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 is a critical piece of curbing the spread of this virus, and COVIDaware MN gives Minnesotans a powerful and anonymous tool to know when you’ve been exposed. The new notification on iPhones will give Minnesotans greater access to this technology, so we can all play our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Read more about the new notifications in the release below, and learn how the COVIDaware MN app works in our latest FAQ Friday — FAQ Friday: The Tech Behind the COVIDaware MN App.

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January 10, 2021 (Saint Paul, MN) – Minnesota’s COVIDaware MN exposure notification system will expand to allow more Minnesotans to protect themselves and their loved ones. Starting Monday, January 11, some Minnesota iPhone users will receive a notification about the opportunity to turn on the COVIDaware MN exposure notification in their phone’s settings. Minnesota users can voluntarily choose to turn on COVID-19 exposure notifications in their settings without downloading the COVIDaware MN app.

“Knowing when you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 is a critical piece of curbing the spread of this virus, and COVIDaware MN gives Minnesotans a powerful and anonymous tool to know when you’ve been exposed,” said Governor Tim Walz. “The new notification on iPhones will give Minnesotans greater access to this technology, so we can all play our part to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The new exposure notification setting, available on iPhones using operating systems (iOS) 12.5 or 13.7 and higher, builds on the full-featured COVIDaware MN app that was released on Nov. 23, 2020. More than 20 states and territories are now using this secure, anonymous technology to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“The iPhone setting, just like the COVIDaware MN app, is entirely opt-in and protects the privacy of Minnesotans,” said MNIT Commissioner Tarek Tomes. “It does not track your location, does not collect your personal information, and will never share your identity with other users, Google, Apple, or the State of Minnesota.”

The exposure notification setting works in the same way as the full-featured COVIDaware MN app. When Minnesotans activate the exposure notification setting, or download the app, the COVIDaware MN system generates a random, privacy-protecting key for a user’s phone that changes every 10 to 20 minutes. It does not track individuals’ locations. Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology, the user’s phone and the phones of other users they are near anonymously exchange these privacy-protected keys.

If a person receives a positive test, state or local public health officials will provide a unique code that the person may voluntarily enter into their phone. If that person enters the code, users with whom they’ve been within six feet of – for 15 or more minutes over a 24-hour period in the past 14 days – will receive a notification of an exposure. COVIDaware MN will exchange random keys with anyone who uses COVIDaware MN or similar applications developed by other states that use the same technology framework.

When Minnesotans use COVIDaware MN, they are helping others in the community make informed decisions about their health and are playing their part to slow the spread of the virus. The more individuals who download or enable COVIDaware MN, the more effective the tool will be to notify Minnesotans about potential exposures. Minnesotans can learn more about the app on the COVIDaware MN website, and download it today from the Google Play or App Store. iPhone users can simply turn on the Setting to help slow the spread of COVID-19 for their communities.

About Minnesota IT Services

Minnesota IT Services, led by the state’s Chief Information Officer, is the Information Technology agency for Minnesota’s executive branch, providing enterprise and local IT services to over 70 agencies, boards, and commissions. MNIT employs more than 2,300 people across 90 physical locations. Together, we build, maintain, and secure the state’s IT infrastructure, applications, projects, and services. MNIT sets IT strategy, direction, policies, and standards for enterprise IT leadership and planning. We also serve Minnesotans by connecting all 87 counties, 300 cities, and 200 public higher education campuses across the state on the MNET network. Through public-private partnerships, our team proactively protects the state’s information systems and the private data of 5.5 million Minnesotans.