SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakotans should consider installing a smartphone app to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Kristi Noem said Thursday, April 9.

The free app, Care19, allows those who install it to track where they go using their phones' location tracking ability. That knowledge could prove crucial to state health officials if the user catches COVID-19 and needs to retrace their steps, Noem said in a press conference.

State officials spend hours going back and helping diagnosed individuals remember where they've been and with whom they've interacted, she said.

"This is an app that will help the Department of Health work with you to remember all the places that you've been, the people you may have been near, and will help us more efficiently investigate your case," she said.

Noem said she is recommending people stay home, but said the app could be used by those who must go out because they're essential workers or otherwise need to travel.

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The app was developed in North Dakota by Tim Brookins, who also made the popular Bison Tracker app for fans of North Dakota State University sports. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Brookins announced the Care19 app was ready for use in the state on Wednesday.

Noem she had worked with Burgum and his team to open the app to South Dakotans. The state is the second to open the app for its residents' use.

Those who download the app will remain anonymous, the tracking data won't be used for anything else and users can opt out and erase their data at any time, Noem said.

"It's completely voluntary," she said.

The app could also be used in the future by state officials for notification purposes, she said.

"We're hoping in the future it will also help us identify and send messages to those who potentially could have been in close contact with positive cases, "she said. "We will continue to see how we can utilize this app to give you information that you may like."

The app is currently only available on the Apple App Store, and should be available for Android phones soon. Noem directed those with more questions to the state's COVID-19 information website, covid.sd.gov.

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