Pennsylvania launches COVID Alert PA app based on Apple-Google tech, Hawaii next

Credit: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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The state of Pennsylvania has launched its coronavirus exposure notification app, dubbed COVID Alert PA and based on Apple and Google technology.

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health officially released COVID Alert PA on both the Apple App Store and the Google Play store. The state first signaled intent to release a COVID-19 app based on the Apple-Google exposure notification framework in August.

"You can now add your phone to the fight against COVID-19 by going to the Google Play Store or Apple App Store and downloading the free COVID Alert PA app to your smartphone," the Department of Health wrote. The app is available to download here for iOS and here for Android.

The app, like similar exposure notification systems deployed in the U.S. and beyond, is designed to alert users when they've been exposed to COVID-19. It works by using short-range Bluetooth identifiers to determine proximity to other users with the exposure notification system. All data is stored on-device, and no personally identifiable information or location data is collected.

Pennsylvania reportedly has a $1.9 million contract with Irish software company NearForm, creator of Ireland's COVID alert system, to deploy and maintain the app.

Along with the exposure notification system, the COVID Alert PA features other coronavirus-related content — including up-to-date case counts from the Department of Health and a COVID-19 symptom tracker. The COVID Alert PA app is also interoperable with neighboring Delaware's COVID-19 app, which launched earlier in September.

Hawaii is also set to roll out an exposure notification app, AlohaSafe Alert, as the state braces for an expected flood of tourists, reports the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Visitors to the islands have faced strict quarantine and no-entry measures since coronavirus outbreak began months ago, but those restrictions are set to expire in October.

In iOS 13.7, Apple also introduced the ability to use the exposure notification system even if a state or regional government hasn't implemented their own app.

Updated with information about AlohaSafe Alert.