In Effort to Stop Spread of Coronavirus, Pa. Launches COVID Alert PA App
By Richard L. Gaw, Staff Writer
For those Chester County residents looking to tap additional
sources in order to better assure their safety during the most severe pandemic
in the past century, there is now an app for that.
In a presentation held last week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of the Department of Health Dr. Rachel Levine introduced the COVID-19 exposure notification mobile app known as COVID Alert PA. Available for free in the Google Play store, the Apple App store and from the state’s website (www.pa.gov.), the application can detect if the user has been in close contact with another user who later tested positive for COVID-19 by sending a “COVID-19 Exposure Alert” notification to the user’s phone.
Using Bluetooth technology, the notification system allows phones with the app to recognize when it is close to another phone. Once the user taps the notification, he or she will be given public health guidance, along with the latest information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania from the department’s COVID-19 data dashboard.
The COVID Alert PA app helps support traditional contact tracing processes. When the Pennsylvania Health Department contacts the COVID-19 positive individual to discuss their diagnosis, the public health representative will provide the user with a unique six-digit validation code to enter into the app.
Once this step is completed, the app will be able to alert other app users who have been in close contact with the COVID-19 positive individual. This exposure alert does not reveal the identity of the COVID-19 positive individual or their whereabouts.
The app is available for download in both English and Spanish.
Adding phones to the fight
“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,” 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.”
The COVID Alert PA app is the latest upgrade in the state’s continuing efforts to boost contact tracing -- the process of identifying, notifying and monitoring anyone who came in close contact with an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 while they were infectious.
“Contact tracing is an important public health strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 while informing any close contacts about their exposure anonymously, and we appreciate that Pennsylvanians are doing their part to answer the call,” Levine said. “For case investigations, it is important for our fellow Pennsylvanians to pick up the phone when public health professionals call to ensure that public health staff can inform them of the important steps they can take to protect their communities and those close to them.
“If you are a close contact, we need you to answer the call to stop this virus in its tracks before it could affect your loved ones, co-workers or friends across the state.”
The timing of the COVID Alert PA’s introduction serves as Pennsylvania’s latest battering ram against data that tells the ongoing story of how the pandemic continues to impact the health of the state’s 12 million residents in 67 counties. As of Sept. 28, the Pennsylvania Department of Health confirmed that the total number of residents who have tested positive for the coronavirus now stands at 156,826, while the total death toll has risen to 8,107.
From Sept. 21-27, the state administered 193,277 tests that revealed 5,572 new positive cases.
In data provided on Sept. 29 by the Chester County Health Department, the county has recorded a total of 6,777 positive coronavirus cases, 80,168 negative cases and a total of 367 deaths.
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email [email protected].