Secretary of Health discusses new COVID-19 contact tracing app

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HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) We rely on smartphones to make calls, send texts and e-mails and use social media. Soon, Pennsylvanians will be able to use smartphones to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m very pleased to announce that we will be able to provide the COVID Alert PA applications to Pennsylvanians beginning in September,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary of PA Department of Health.

At a news conference Tuesday morning in Harrisburg, Dr. Levine explained how the app can be used to quickly break chains of COVID-19 transmissions.

“This app uses bluetooth technology to let a person know that they have been exposed to COVID-19 without compromising their identity or their location,” said Dr. Levine.

The app determines if you’ve spent time near another user who later tested positive for coronavirus through what’s called exposure notification technology. In other words, it measures time and distance.

“Such as anytime someone is in close proximity to another person and remember close proximity is defined as being within six feet for 15 minutes or more,” said Dr. Levine.

Delaware also plans to launch a COVID-19 alert app next month which will be interoperable with Pennsylvania’s.

Dr. Levine said other surrounding states may soon follow with the key to its success depending on people who call the Keystone State home.

“The more people who have the app, the more effective it will be in terms of this notification process. So, we really call upon everybody to stop the spread as I’ve been saying by downloading the app when it is available in September.”     

Dr. Levine was quick to say the app doesn’t replace Pennsylvania’s case investigators or its 1,200 contact tracers.

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