Civic News

The state health department is shutting down its COVID Alert PA app

The app was used to track cases, alert exposure and track symptoms, but the Pennsylvania Department of Health now has other online resources to do that.

COVID Alert PA app.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) announced that as of July 27, the COVID Alert PA app will no longer be in use.

The app, designed by the Irish software development firm NearForm, was used to track the spread of COVID in Pennsylvania, with sister apps in other states. It was released in September 2020 and provided information about COVID vaccines, exposure alerts and symptom tracking.

COVID Alert PA worked by using your phone’s bluetooth to see if people near you are also using it. Then, if a user tests positive, they have the option to share their test result, and the app sends exposure alerts to anyone who was near the infected person’s device for 15 minutes or longer. The app used anonymous data to protect people’s identities.

When it was first released, the app was widely downloaded by Pennsylvanians: 50,000 people logged on within the first 24 hours.

According to Maggi Barton, deputy press secretary of the DOH, the app was one additional resource when COVID cases were spiking. Since then, the DOH has continued to adapt and create long-term online resources for COVID-19 response.

“As we move forward through this phase of the response, the COVID Alert PA app is no longer critical regardless of the current volume of COVID-19 cases,” Barton told Technical.ly. “The department will continue to stay alert and monitor COVID-19 cases. Case investigation and contact tracing efforts continue with our trained public health professionals just as they have done throughout the pandemic — without any further assistance from the app.”

In addition to the state’s usual process for case investigations and contact tracing, 4,853 users confirmed their positive test result through the app, Barton said, which prompted 2,845 exposure alerts to people who downloaded the app and were potentially exposed to an infected person.

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“The app does not collect or ask for any personally identifiable or personal health information,” she said.

Those who used the app can access similar resources through the following sites:

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