Virginia launches COVID-19 app that notifies people of possible exposures

Posted at 12:26 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 08:01:22-04

Virginia has officially launched COVIDWISE, an app that notifies people if they might have been exposed to coronavirus.

Governor Northam's office say the Commonwealth is the first state in the United States to launch an app of this kind available on GooglePlay and Apple App Store.

App developers say smartphones will anonymously exchange tokens through the app. It'll use your bluetooth to determine how close you are to someone.

If someone tests positive, people who have been close to that person over the last 14 days could receive a notification depending on how close they were to that person and for how long. VDH says a close contact is considered someone within six feet of someone for more than 15 minutes.

"It is helping to assess your exposure to Covid-19 and provides an automated notification with steps to further prevent transmission," said Jeff Stover from the Virginia Department of Health.

VDH says the app is completely voluntary and free. They say the app does not track your GPS location or who you are.

If you test positive, VDH will give you a pin code to enter into the app. It is your choice on whether to enter the code into the app, but that action will notify who else has been close to you. The pin code also prevents someone from entering false results.

If you get a notification about potential exposure, app developers say options will pop up on the app suggesting you get tested or check-in with your doctor.

VDH says you can delete the app at any time. They will be launching a widespread advertising effort to spread word about the app.

"This can really help us catch new cases early before they spread as far," said Gov. Northam. "You get that alert. You can get a test and then you can quarantine yourself."

AP reports, the app comes nearly four months after Apple and Google said they were partnering on creating app-building software for public health agencies trying to contain the spread of the pandemic. Canada and a number of European countries already have similar apps.

To download on Apple App Store, click here.

To download on GooglePlay, click here.