ALEXANDRIA, VA – On August 5 Governor Ralph S. Northam (D-VA) announced the release of a new app designed help stop the spread of COVID-19. The app, COVIDWISE, was designed by the Virginia Health Department (VDH) to specifically aid contact tracing efforts. When downloaded to a phone, it sends a notification to the user if he or she has come into contact with people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
“We must continue to fight COVID-19 from every possible angle,” the governor said.. “The COVIDWISE exposure notification app gives you an additional tool to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community, while maintaining your personal privacy. I encourage all Virginians to download and use this app, so we can work together to contain this virus.”
COVIDWISE works by using random Bluetooth keys that change every 10 to 20 minutes. iOS and Android devices that have the app installed will anonymously share these random keys if they are within close proximity for at least 15 minutes.
Each day, the device downloads a list of all random keys associated with positive COVID-19 results submitted by other app users and checks them against the list of keys it has encountered during the most recent two-week period.
Developers created the app so that people have the choice upload their positive test results without fear of releasing personal information or location data. Users can delete the app or turn off exposure notifications at any time.
The app only works between users. It does not contain results of people not using COVIDWISE. If a person has had close contact with another user who has tested positive, he or she will receive a notice that reads: “You have likely been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.” This message is an alert to get tested.
“The more Virginians use COVIDWISE, the greater the likelihood that you will receive timely exposure notifications that lead to effective disease prevention,” said State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA.
Governor Northam’s office, in a press release, stressed that “widespread use is critical” to stop the spread. VDH is launching a campaign to ensure that Virginians know about the app, its privacy features, and how to use it.
To learn more and download the app, click HERE. COVIDWISE is also available for free on Google Play and the Apple App Store.