Outlining the key aspects of ‘Covidwise,’ the first Covid-tracing app

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VIRGINIA (WDVM) — On Wednesday, Governor Northam announced the new smartphone app, Covidwise, which alerts you of potential coronavirus exposure .

The launch of Covidwise puts Virginia first in the nation to develop an app that anonymously tracks virus exposure through Bluetooth technology. 

The app does not use location services, meaning it does not know where you are located and it doesn’t need to.

“We sided on the perspective that whatever we decided to do was going to be an avenue that insured the privacy and confidentially of citizens meaning we’re not going to track location, we’re not going to collect personal identifiable information, it’s not necessary in order to do this” said Jeff Stover, executive program advisor to the commissioner, Virginia Department of Health.

Stover explained to me that this app uses the same technology as any typical Bluetooth device, such as a speaker or headphones.

“I would equate it to thinking about your Bluetooth speaker that’s in your house somewhere and you have it tied to your phone. If you go outside, you don’t pick it up so well, right? But the closer you are to it, the better the connection” said Stover.

If you are in close enough proximity with another person who has the app, for at least 15 minutes, your phones will automatically share anonymous keys.

When someone is confirmed Covid positive, a case investigator will reach out and provide them with a six digit pin they can choose to enter into the app. The app will then send out notifications.

“It’s going to look at those other parameters, was I within six feet of that particular signal, for at least 15 minutes, and did it happen within the last 14 days? If all of those things check yes, then you would get a notification on your phone” Stover stated.

Stover explained, the more downloads, the better to prove a success for Virginia. He emphasized that it’s not for the benefit of the health department, but to benefit the public.

“This is really for you, so that you can receive notifications if you were potentially exposed so you can take necessary precautions” said Stover.

We asked our viewers on Facebook if they would download the app or not. So far, only 30% of viewers said they would.

As of Friday morning, 219,000 users have downloaded COVIDWISE. 

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