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Virginia is first state to use Google, Apple software to create COVID-19 tracking app

Posted at 4:30 PM, Aug 11, 2020

Google and Apple teamed up to create a software that allows a COVID-19 tracking app to work. It’s part of a recent software update on smartphones.

Now, Virginia is the first state to make an app using the technology. It's called COVIDWISE. It's similar to contact tracing but isn't exactly the same.

COVIDWISE uses Bluetooth technology to measure distance between different people and how much time they've spent together. Both people need to have the app installed.

Users will receive an alert if someone around them tests positive for coronavirus and it won't reveal who it was.

While not everybody needs to have the app, the more people who do, the better.

“For every one to two app users, you're potentially averting one infection, so I think that's a good take-home message,” said Jeff Stover, Executive Program Advisor at the Virginia Department of Health. “So, obviously the more of them there are, the more potential infections that we avert.”

The app is really only meant to notify people if they've been exposed to the coronavirus. It's not meant to eliminate traditional contact tracing.

“Traditional contact tracing is still important. It is still required. It's really how we get in touch with people to determine if they have questions, if they have prevention activities that they need to figure out,” said Stover.

Another thing about the app is that it does not use location data. Virginia's health department says there's really no need for it, especially because that type of data doesn't really show the distance between people.

Right now, the app can only be used in Virginia, but the state of North Dakota has said the app will be available for use there soon.