People are oddly disinterested in downloading an app that could allow the government to track their every move.
· Nov 30, 2020 ·

A mystery for the ages.

"Jess Reingold, a web project manager who lives in Alexandria, has lots of ideas for Virginia's COVIDWISE app, which was the first software system in the nation to alert users if they've had a close contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus."

I bet he does! Unfortunately, there had been a decided lack of enthusiasm among Virginians to download the app much less use it.

"That has been the struggle in Virginia, which in early August became the first state to roll out an exposure notification app. Three months later, downloads of the app, known as Covidwise, amounted to roughly a 10th of Virginia's population of about 8.5 million."

Things aren't going much better elsewhere, either. In Nevada, for example.

"...the app has been downloaded just under 70,000 times as of Nov. 9, representing just under 3% of the state's adult population."

They make Virginia look like a police state.

"A total of zero exposures were registered in the app throughout the month of September, during which the state reported more than 10,000 new cases."

The people who are so concerned about catching Covid that they went through the time and trouble to download an app to track their movements are the very ones who are not getting Covid.

Another brain teaser.

On the plus side, the app hasn't been completely useless.

"One of the first positive test results logged into the app was submitted in early October by Nevada's pandemic response director, who himself had contracted the virus."

That's like when you had to sell chocolate to raise money for your youth club and you were so pathetic at it your mother had to buy out your stock.

Which totally never happened to me. More than once.

Okay, six times.

"Nevada is currently reporting roughly 1,200 new COVID-19 cases daily, and the app doesn't seem to be making a difference."

People might not care about the app or trust it, but at least it doesn't work.

Might part of the problem be bureaucratic incompetence?


"You'd get sent from the public health department to the governor's office, to the [chief information officer], back to a mayor's office, back to the chief information security officer's office. It was this Kafkaesque thing where no one had ever done this. No one had ever developed a contact-tracing app before. States don't develop apps."

And for good reason.

One big hurdle—and this will not surprise you—people don't entirely trust that their data will be kept private.

This of course is unfounded. Tech companies are committed to guarding your privacy.

Nothing is more important to them.

It's like a sacred pact they have with their users.

Rest assured, you can rely on your data to remain completely secure.

And you can take that to the bank.

In another surprise, people don't much trust anyone, really, app or not.

It sounds to me like the governor is annoyed with your behavior. Does he sound annoyed to you? I think he's annoyed.

"This is not a witch hunt. This is about protecting you, your loved ones, and your community.

Take the call."

Yeah, he's annoyed.

Not to worry, they are hard at work trying to come up with a way to get you to comply, perhaps by emphasizing the app's ability to alert you to infection. As Carnegie Mellon math professor Po-Shen Loh explains it,

"Even if you are a really selfish person and you don't care about anyone else, it is to your great benefit to find out [your risk of infection] before COVID gets all the way to your contacts, as it's coming into your contacts' contacts."

I have to be honest, I find it extremely persuasive to have my legitimate concerns founded on years of misbehavior and betrayal on the part of people in authority dismissed with contempt and condescension.

Okay, I'm convinced. Where do I download this thing?

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