Pennsylvania launches new exposure-notification COVID-19 app

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The state of Pennsylvania has officially launched a new COVID-19 mobile app on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020.

Governor Tom Wolf’s office said Wednesday that Pennsylvania’s new covid-19 contact tracing app has been downloaded by 50000 people barely 24 hours it was launched.

The mobile app, COVID Alert PA, which was announced in August, is designed to notify users if they have been exposed to covid-19 using Bluetooth technology.

Without tracking identity or location, it measures time and distance between users, notifying them if they have come in close contact with someone who has later tested positive for the coronavirus.

“I encourage all Pennsylvanians to download the app on a personal mobile device to help in the fight against covid-19,” Wolf said in a statement.

He added that the more people who download the app, the more effective it will be in helping to stop the spread of covid.

The app, available in the Google Play and Apple stores, uses Bluetooth technology to know when a user’s phone is within six feet of another phone with the app for 15 minutes or more.

If a user reports in the app that they tested positive for covid-19, it will send an alert to other users who were in close contact over the last 14 days.

“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,” Health Secretary Rachel Levine said in a statement.

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, according to Levine.

Since the early stages of the pandemic, scientists and governments worldwide quickly looked to smartphone technology to mitigate the spread of the virus, with some early successes reported in European and Asian countries.

Experts overseas have also noted setbacks to their effectiveness, too, noting that without widespread adoption in the general public, the technology makes little difference.

“The more people who have the app, the more effective it will be in terms of this notification process,” Levine said of COVID Alert PA in August.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania reported 39 deaths attributed to covid-19, being the highest reported in a single day since 39 were reported June 25.

The state also added 898 new coronavirus cases, bringing its total to 152,544 since March.

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