Virginia 1st state to launch coronavirus contact tracing app through Apple, Google system

Virginia on Aug. 5 became the first U.S. state to launch a COVID-19 tracking app built with Google and Apple's jointly developed exposure notification system, according to CNBC

Virginia's app, named Covidwise, uses Bluetooth signals from smartphones to track when two phones come in close proximity, without collecting the location of the devices or identification of the individuals. Other states have released similar contact tracing apps but have not used Apple and Google's framework, according to the report. 

If one of the phones' users tests positive for COVID-19, Covidwise is then able to send an alert to any other phones with the app that came in close contact to inform them they may have been exposed to the virus. After testing positive for the virus, the Virginia Department of Health provides the individual with a six-digit PIN number that they can enter into the app, which then triggers the alert to other users notifying of the exposure. 

Apple and Google in April announced their partnership to develop the joint system, which works with both Apple and Android devices. Virginia's health department used $229,000 from the CARES Act to pay data analytics company SpringML to create the Covidwise app, according to the report.   

Virginia will advertise the app on billboards, digital ads and through partnerships with schools and workplaces, and Google is offering advertising credits for its search engine and the Google Play app store. While this system is no plan for a national COVID-19 exposure app, Virginia officials told the network that the state will most likely participate in a program to build a "national key server," which allows apps from different states to work together. 

More articles on health IT: 
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California COVID-19 data discrepancies leave health official 'feeling blind'

 

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