End of COVID exposure app part of long ‘unwinding’ process

By: - May 2, 2023 4:33 am

NM Notify, the official phone app that is the state of New Mexico’s Exposure Notifications System, will stop operating on May 11. (Courtesy of New Mexico Department of Health)

As part of the broader “unwinding” of its response to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the phone application New Mexico uses to tell people when they may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 will go dark on May 11.

Funding for the NM Notify app has run out, New Mexico Department of Health Communications Coordinator David Barre wrote in a news release on Monday.

Contact tracing is a public health measure used to identify, assess and manage people who have been exposed to someone who has been infected with the virus. It typically comes along with quarantine in a designated medical institution, hotel, or a person’s own home.

New Mexico last year quietly closed its COVID isolation shelters.

The app was just one kind of electronic tracing. Contact tracing can also include manual investigations, like conducting interviews over the phone with people who are exposed.

Research shows that contact tracing, when paired with mass testing and early isolation, can lower the risk of transmission and dramatically reduce the burden of future isolation.

Each time someone gets infected, they run the risk (about a 10% chance, according to the World Health Organization) of developing Long COVID.

The state’s deletion of the exposure app comes after other parts of state government and the major private health care systems in the state lifted their few remaining COVID protections.

Local hospitals in May lifted their mask requirements, along with state courts in April and public schools in March.

The state in March began purging its Medicaid beneficiary rolls; said it would no longer pay for COVID vaccines, treatments and tests; and cut food assistance benefits going to more than half a million state residents.

At the beginning of 2023, the New Mexico legislature fully reopened without vaccination, masking or capacity limits.

Over the winter, the state ended free diagnostic testing for COVID, forced public sector workers back to in-person work, and denied requests from people who asked to work remotely and avoid getting infected.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.