COVID-19 exposure app launched in Pennsylvania

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — If you test positive for COVID-19, health departments notify people you came into contact with at your work or school so they can quarantine and keep the virus from spreading even more. But a new app can extend contact tracing to anyone you walked by on the street or stood behind in line.

Tuesday Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the launch of COVID Alert Pennsylvania. In the first day more than 30,000 Pennsylvanians started using the app and more than 16,000 checked in.

Tuesday the Wolf administration launched the COVID-19 exposure notification app to help fight the spread of the virus.

“It’s an innovative new tool in the fight against COVID-19,” Dr. Levine said.

The app uses exposure notification system technology. With Bluetooth, it can detect if you have been in close contact with another user who tests positive. Students at Wilkes University say the app could be helpful on campus.

“Since we’re all still going to classes together and being around different people, it would be smart to use it,” Jordan Daniel said.

“We’re in close proximity with so many people and go down the same stairwell and half of them we don’t even really know, so it would be good to be able to find out if they were positive,” Lizzy Antes said.

It will send a notification to your phone called a “COVID-19 exposure alert” along with public health guidance for what to do next. The app also provides the latest information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. It will not track your location or collect personal information.

“It’s good that they don’t give your actual information because that could be scary. People could track you down,” Tory Duffy said.

But it relies on people voluntarily downloading the app and entering their results if they test positive.

“If people don’t get it and don’t enter their symptoms because that just puts you in the same situation where you could be walking by someone and they could have it and you wouldn’t know because they don’t have the app so I guess that would be a concern,” Duffy said.

And like masks and social distancing, the more people who participate, the better it works.

“I would definitely, and encourage my friends and family to if they would be willing,” Antes said.

The app also provides the latest information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania. Users can find testing sites and check in with their symptoms.

Pennsylvanians can now download the COVID Alert PA app for free in the app store.

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