State launches COVID Alert DE mobile app

WILMINGTON — A new mobile app is available, which the state says can help fight against the spread of COVID-19.

Gov. John Carney, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services and the Delaware Department of Technology and Information on Tuesday launched COVID Alert DE – a mobile app available in the App Store or Google Play The app is free and available in the App Store or Google Play. It is available to anyone 18 years old or older who lives, works or attends college in Delaware.

COVID Alert DE uses Bluetooth technology from Google and Apple to “securely and anonymously alert users who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.”

If a person does test positive for COVID-19, they are encouraged to input a six-digit code into the COVID Alert DE app. The app will then run in the background, pinging other phones who are also running the app in an attempt to find other phones running the app which might have been nearby during the time the individual could have been contagious with COVID-19.

“Contact tracers give them a six-digit code that they choose to enter into their phone,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said on Tuesday. “It triggers their phone to upload special keys and those anonymous keys are checked against the list of random keys that they have encountered on other users’ phones over the last few days. If there’s a match, the COVID Alert DE app will then send an exposure notification alert to those individual app users, taking into account the date and the duration of the exposure.”

Users also have the option to do a daily COVID-19 check-in on the app, which will keep a record of any symptoms or any changes in health.

Officials said the app is not a substitute for basic precautionary measures such as mask wearing, social distancing in public and frequent hand washing.

COVID Alert DE does not collect or share personal information that can identify users. The app also does not use Global Positioning System (GPS) location data to detect the location of users or track movements. The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy technology, which allows phones with the app to recognize when it is near other phones also running the application.

“The COVID Alert DE app will protect your privacy by not collecting or sharing any personal information, such as name, address or age, that can identify you,” Ms. Magarik said.

“We are not using GPS navigation, geocoding, or any other location services as part of this app. The app cannot be used to track you. The app does not know whether you are supposed to be self-quarantining or self-isolating. The app does not know any personal details about the exposure alert that was sent to your phone. And so, since we do not know who you are and the app does not know who you are, it cannot reveal your identity at any point.”

Delawareans identified as close contacts of positive cases may receive an alert from the app, as well as outreach from the Division of Public Health’s contact tracing team. An exposure alert on COVID Alert DE alone will not trigger a call from Delaware contact tracers.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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