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Minneapolis, MN (KROC-AM News) - Minnesota may soon deploy a high-tech tool to combat the spread of COVID-19.

During a news conference this morning during which governor Tim Walz discussed the ongoing expansion of the state’s COVID 19 testing program, he and the State Health Commissioner also talked about plans for a notification system using cell phone location data. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says the system is currently undergoing testing and she indicated it may be ready for a broader deployment in a matter of weeks.

Malcolm and Governor Walz both stressed that participation in the cell phone contact tracing program would be purely voluntary due to privacy concerns while also noting the system is designed to keep the participants' data anonymous. They explained it would work by tapping into the location data on the phone of a participating individual who tests positive for COVID-19 and issuing a notification to any participant whose corresponding location data indicates they had spent at least 15 minutes within six feet of the infected person.

The governor talked about the initiative while meeting with reporters outside the Minneapolis Convention Center where the state opened a new free saliva testing site today. Walz also announced the Minnesota National Guard will be operating 11 additional testing sites that will offer both saliva and nasal swab testing beginning November 16th. The locations will be announced later in the week.

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