Pennsylvania COVID exposure notification app receives over 50,000 downloads in first 24 hours

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Just one day after the Wolf administration launched the COVID Alert PA app, the administration says over 50,000 Pennsylvanians have downloaded it.

“I encourage all Pennsylvanians to download the app on a personal mobile device to help in the fight against COVID-19,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a release. “The more people who download the app, the more effective it will be in helping to stop the spread of COVID. Please download it today and make your phone part of the fight.”

COVID Alert PA is a free, voluntary mobile app created by the state Health Department in partnership with NearForm, UPenn, and MIT Lincoln Laboratory.

The app’s features include an interactive COVID-19 symptom checker, opt-in for alerts for potential exposures to the virus, updates on the latest public health data about COVID-19 in PA and advice for what to do if you have a potential exposure to COVID-19.

Here’s how COVID Alert PA works:

  • The app uses anonymous Bluetooth low energy proximity technology to know when your phone is within 6 feet of another phone with the app for 15 minutes or more.
  • When an app user confirms a positive COVID-19 test result in the app, it will check to see if it matches any of the anonymous Bluetooth close contact interactions your phone has had over the last 14 days.
  • If there is a match, COVID Alert PA may send an alert after taking into account the date, duration of exposure and the Bluetooth signal strength (which is used to estimate how close your phone was to the phone of the person having a positive test result).

“Our success in overcoming the virus depends on all of us and our collective behaviors, including wearing a mask, social distancing, proper hygiene and staying home if you feel sick,” Dr. Levine said in a release. “The COVID Alert PA app is an additional powerful tool that can be used on a voluntary basis to help keep yourself and those you care about safe.”

The app is designed with privacy at the forefront. The app does not use GPS, location services, or any movement or geographical information. It will never collect, transmit or store personal information. In other words, it is completely anonymous.

More information on the app can be found here.

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