PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — About a month ago, Palm Beach County launched the Combat COVID app to help control the spread of the deadly coronavirus using contact tracing.
With about 12,000 downloads so far, Combat COVID has a long way to go.
But Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner said this tool could be a major help to stop the spread of COVID-19 once schools reopen to in-person instruction again.
Palm Beach County is now in its first step of Phase Two of Florida's reopening plan, and in less than two weeks, students who chose to be will return to brick-and-mortar schools.
"I see a really big opportunity for this app to play a very important role as our brick-and-mortar school district opens up here after September 21," Kerner said.
Combat COVID is an app the county purchased to help with contact tracing.
Once you download the app, you activate your Bluetooth and it can exchange what the creator of the app said is an anonymous identifier beacon via Bluetooth.
If you come into close contact with someone else who has the app and they later notify the app that they have COVID-19, the technology will find all of the users it came into contact with using Bluetooth over a period of time and send you an alert about the potential COVID exposure.
"The county nor any entity gets any information about the type of contact that was made and how many times contact was made," Kerner said. "That is not stored anywhere so we cannot access it. That is part of the value of this app."
Kener said he sees a huge opportunity for parents and the School District of Palm Beach County to use this app once in-person classroom instruction begins, and now that the county is in Phase Two.
"Any tool that you can use to help combat it is very important right now because we are not going to be staying at home," Kerner said.
To download the Combat COVID app, click here.