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In the two weeks since it was launched, North Carolina’s COVID-19 exposure app, SlowCOVIDNC, has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

But Sam Gibbs, the deputy secretary for technology and operations at the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said the app shouldn’t necessarily be judged by the absolute number of North Carolinians who download it.

That’s because the state, he said, is being very specific about who it is marketing the app to. Rather than invest in widespread and expensive marketing to all residents in the state, DHHS is targeting the app toward specific populations.

For example, a large majority of people who have downloaded SlowCOVIDNC are students in the UNC System, community colleges or private universities in the state.

“It is not an overall number (of downloads) we are looking for — we are trying to get concentrations in places that” are at high risk, Gibbs

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a laptop sits on top of a wooden table: A phone displays a screen from an exposure notification app, asking users if they'd like to begin sending and receiving data with other app users.


© Provided by Quartz
A phone displays a screen from an exposure notification app, asking users if they’d like to begin sending and receiving data with other app users.

For the first six months of the pandemic, the US lagged behind dozens of other countries in rolling out apps to alert citizens when they’ve come in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. But states are finally rolling out a wave of apps based on open-source software that has made their proliferation faster and cheaper.

Now people just need to download them.

The most recent additions to the canon are New York and New Jersey, which each launched apps on Oct. 1. By the next day, iPhone and Android users had installed the New York app about 250,000 times.

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Since August, seven other US states and Guam have launched exposure notification apps. Four of

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