Pennsylvania has launched “COVID Alert PA”, a new app to help trace the spread of COVID-19. The app uses Bluetooth technology to let a person know if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19. Available now free to smartphone users as a download from the Apple App store or Google Play store, COVID Alert PA is available in English and Spanish.
“The last seven months have shown that we are most successful when we unite against COVID-19 and work together for the common good, and I am proud to be here with Dr. Levine to announce an important new technology that will allow us to do just that,” Gov. Wolf said. “Today, we are launching the COVID Alert PA mobile app. This app is a simple tool you can use to help fight COVID-19 every day, everywhere you go. I encourage you to visit your app store and download it for free today.”
“We all play a part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, which is why I am encouraging every Pennsylvanian to add their phone to the fight and download COVID Alert PA today,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “By utilizing this technology, we can quickly notify more people who have been exposed to COVID-19. This innovative solution will enhance our COVID-19 response and give residents another tool to stay calm, stay alert and stay safe all in the palm of their hands.”
COVID Alert PA uses Exposure Notification System technology developed by Apple and Google. The app can detect if you have been in close contact with another user who later tested positive for COVID-19 and will send a notification to your phone called a “COVID-19 Exposure Alert”. If you tap on the notification, you will be given public health guidance on what to do next.
In addition, the app will provide users with the latest information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania from the department’s COVID-19 data dashboard.
The app does not enable any location services or tracks anyone and is designed to be completely anonymous. The Exposure Notification System works by using Bluetooth Low Energy, which allows phones with the app to recognize when it is close to another phone. Proximity is the only thing measured between phones, not location.
“We are very committed to and conscious of protecting the privacy and security of all Pennsylvanians,” Dr. Levine said. “COVID Alert PA will not track your location or collect any personal information from you—it is simply an exposure notification tool. The app uses Bluetooth technology to send a notification if someone has been in close contact with an individual who later tested positive for COVID-19. This is the same technology that your smartphone uses to connect to your wireless Bluetooth headphones, or your car. The app will never ask you to turn on your location.”