Virginia launches COVIDWISE: Mobile app latest tool to fight COVID-19
Virginia is launching a new app that will alert users if they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The sales pitch from Gov. Ralph Northam: “protect yourself, your loved ones, and your community, while maintaining your personal privacy.”
“We must continue to fight COVID-19 from every possible angle,” said Northam, announcing on Wednesday the launch of COVIDWISE, an exposure notification app developed by the Virginia Department of Health in partnership with Spring ML that will alert users if they have been in close contact with an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19.
How COVIDWISE works
The app utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy technology developed by Apple and Google that does not rely on personal information or location data, instead 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 random keys it has encountered in the last 14 days.
If there is a match, COVIDWISE may notify the individual, taking into account the date and duration of exposure, and the Bluetooth signal strength which is used to estimate proximity.
Individuals who test positive for COVID-19 will be notified by a VDH case investigator and will be given a unique numeric code.
This code is entered into the app by the user and serves as verification of a positive report.
Others who have downloaded COVIDWISE and have been in close proximity to the individual who reported as being positive will receive a notice that reads, “You have likely been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.”
This is your alert to get tested.
The notice includes the estimated number of days since the exposure and provides several options for taking further action, including contacting a primary care physician or local health department, monitoring symptoms, and finding nearby test locations.
The Virtual VDH tab within the app also provides links to online resources and relevant phone numbers.
The app offers users the option to choose to receive exposure notifications, and if a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is up to them whether or not to share their result anonymously through COVIDWISE.
No location data or personal information is ever collected, stored, tracked, or transmitted to VDH as part of the app.
Users have the ability to delete the app or turn off exposure notifications at any time.
To learn more about COVIDWISE and the download the app, visit covidwise.org.
Watch an informational briefing with the app developers here. Read the one-page information sheet on COVIDWISE here. This document is also available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Arabic.