What you need to know
- Pennsylvania has announced it is launching a contact tracing app in September.
- The app uses Apple and Google's Exposure Notification technology.
- It will also provide users with up to date case information about the pandemic.
Apple and Google's contact tracing technology is coming to Pennsylvania in the United States.
Reported by 6 ABC, Pennsylvania plans to launch a contact tracing app in September as part of the state's effort to curb the spread of the pandemic. The state has signed a $1.9 million contract with NearForm Ltd., the development company behind Ireland's contact tracing app that has been downloaded by over a quarter of their home country.
Pennsylvania's Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced the "COVID Alert PA" app at a press briefing on Tuesday. Health Department spokesperson April Hutcheson says that the app will enable a community effort to ensure that everyone stays safe.
"The app is about Pennsylvanians helping Pennsylvanians, it's about as a community being able to let each other know and track each other's exposure so we can keep each other safe."
According to an interview with The Associated Press, the app will go through a trial period with state government employees and public health students before becoming widely available to all residents in the state.
Three other U.S. states have launched contact tracing apps using Apple and Google's technology recently. Virginia, North Dakota, and Wyoming have all launched apps for their citizens that use the Exposure Notification API.
If a person tests positive, they will be given a 6-digit code to enter into the app that will alert others who have been in contact with them within the last fourteen days to quarantine and seek medical help such as getting a test themselves. The person who entered the code will remain anonymous.
If they are willing to use it, they are given a six-digit code to enter to then issue a notification, state officials said. A person who receives a notification will get something like an alert to check the app, with instructions from the Department of Health on how to protect themselves and others, including information about staying at home, quarantining and seeking medical help. The identify of the person who was infected is shielded from people receiving a notification, and vice versa, they said.
Meghna Patel, deputy secretary for health innovation at the Department of Health, says that the app will also have up-to-date data about the pandemic for Pennsylvania citizens to reference.
In addition to exposure notification, the Pennsylvania app will have a data feature that allows the user to see up-to-date information on case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths by county, as well a feature that helps the user to monitor their symptoms even if they have not tested positive, Patel said.