Pa. Department of Health launching app to trace spread of COVID-19


Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine stressed users' locations wouldn't be stored and that the government is not tracking people with it

Coronavirus, COVID-19

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(WKBN) – The Pennsylvania Department of Health is launching an app to help track the spread of COVID-19.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine discussed the app during a press conference on Tuesday.

The app uses Bluetooth technology to let a person know that they have been exposed to COVID-19 without compromising the person’s identity or location, Levine said. The app uses Apple and Google’s technology to measure when a person is in close proximity (six feet or less) to another person for an extended period of time).

Levine stressed that while there is a location pinpoint on the app, it does not store a user’s location. Levine said the government is not tracking users’ locations.

COVID Alert PA should be available for Pennsylvanians in September.

Usage of the app is voluntary.

While it doesn’t replace case investigators or contact tracers, it should enhance their work.

Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health also reported an additional 735 positive cases of COVID-19 and 31 new deaths.

That brings the statewide total to 125,579 cases and 7,499 deaths attributed to COVID-19.

The number of tests administered within the last seven days between August 11 and August 17 is 162,293 with 5,992 positive cases. There were 18,926 test results reported to the department through 10 p.m., August 17. These results represent the total number of tests administered.

There are 644 patients who have a positive serology test and either COVID-19 symptoms or a high-risk exposure, which are considered probable cases and not confirmed cases. There are 1,353,987 patients who have tested negative to date.

Of the patients who have tested positive to date, the age breakdown is as follows:

  • 1% are ages 0-4;
  • 1% are ages 5-12;
  • Nearly 4% are ages 13-18;
  • Nearly 10% are ages 19-24; 
  • Nearly 38% are ages 25-49; 
  • Nearly 23% are ages 50-64; and
  • Nearly 24% are ages 65 or older.

In nursing and personal care homes, there are 20,444 resident cases of COVID-19, and 4,261 cases among employees, for a total of 24,705 at 899 distinct facilities. Out of the total deaths, 5,064 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. A county breakdown can be found here.

Approximately 8,997 of the total cases are amongst health care workers.

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