The smartphone app that allows people to self-report COVID-19 infections and then alerts other app users who may have been exposed will stop operating on July 27.
The state health department says COVID Alert PA, in use since early in the pandemic, is no longer an essential tool, even though the threat isn’t over.
“As we move forward through this phase of the response, the COVID Alert PA app is no longer critical regardless of the current volume of COVID-19 cases. The department will continue to stay alert and monitor COVID-19 cases,” health department spokeswoman Maggi Barton said.
As of Wednesday, Pennsylvania had seven-day averages of 1,979 new cases and nine deaths per day, with 45,821 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Slightly less than 1,100 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday, including 99 in intensive care and 45 on breathing ventilators.
The app was downloaded by about 1.2 million people.
Barton said 4,853 people who tested positive for COVID-19 uploaded their result to the app, resulting in 2,845 people being alerted of exposure. The positive results were handled anonymously, with the infected person’s identity unknown to people exposed to them.
The app used Bluetooth keys to identify app users who were within six feet of an infected person for 15 minutes or more.
Barton says the state will continue to do contact tracing to find and notify people exposed to infected people, although she didn’t say how far-reaching the effort is. The latest recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control say people who get COVID-19 should stay home and away from other people for at least five days.
The app had many other features, including state and county-level data on COVID-19 infections and deaths, and information about COVID-19 vaccination locations.
Barton says people can continue to get that information from these sources:
— Find a vaccine provider near you: https://www.vaccines.gov/
— Track the level of COVID-19 activity in your community via the CDC’s county-level map: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html
— Get the latest weekly update on COVID-19 data in Pennsylvania online at: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Cases.aspx
— Check if you should get a COVID test on the “When to Get Tested” page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/diagnostic-testing.html
— Find COVID-19 testing sites in Pennsylvania here: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Symptoms-Testing.aspx
— Review treatment options if you test positive: https://www.health.pa.gov/topics/disease/coronavirus/Pages/Prevention-Treatment.aspx
Correction: The health department says the app is unique to Pennsylvania.
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