‘This is not Big Brother’; Hogan touts state’s COVID app, urges contact tracing help

The State of Maryland is urging residents to download a COVID-19 notification app that will tell them if they come in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

ANNAPOLIS — More than 1 million Marylanders have subscribed to the state’s COVID-19 “exposure notification” app, according to Gov. Larry Hogan.

The governor also continues to press reticent residents with privacy concerns to cooperate with COVID-related contact tracing efforts. Those efforts seek to track the whereabouts of those who have tested positive for the virus.

The MD COVID Alert app tells subscribers when they have been in contact or near someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. The state government launched the app on Nov. 10.

“MD COVID Alert is another important tool in our fight against COVID-19 in Maryland,” Hogan said in a statement on Thursday, Nov. 19.

“We are encouraging everyone to opt-in, which will help us stop the spread and protect our fellow Marylanders. This incredible response is a testament to the perseverance and vigilance of the people of our state during this unprecedented public health crisis,” Hogan said.

The iPhone and Android app downloads and tracks verified positive COVID-19 cases and tells users if they have come in contact with those individuals. It will then send a notification if there have been any potential exposures.

State officials stress the system uses random identifications and does not identify specific individuals.

Still, there is resistance to state-run COVID apps such as Maryland’s and contact tracing efforts for those who have tested positive.

Those with civil liberties and privacy concerns worry about government and Orwellian intrusions into their lives.

Both Hogan and Talbot County Health Officer Dr. Fredia Wadley have complained about lack of cooperation with contact tracing efforts and getting those who have tested positive to share their whereabouts.

Hogan said that 50% of those who have had positive COVID-19 tests have declined to take part in state-run contact tracing efforts.

“This is not Big Brother, we’re not trying to track you, we’re trying to stop the virus and stop you from infecting people you come in contact with,” Hogan said Tuesday referring to contact tracing efforts and parallels some see with George Orwell’s “1984” novel.

The post-election rise in COVID-19 cases nationally and in Maryland have prompted a new wave of government orders and shutdowns.

In Maryland, Hogan has told restaurants and bars they have to close at 10 p.m. and has rolled back allowed capacity levels at churches, fitness centers and stores.

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