Michigan is introducing a new coronavirus exposure notification mobile app as cases continue to surge across the state.
On Monday, Nov. 9, multiple state departments announced a roll-out of the free app that lets users know whether they may have recently been exposed to COVID-19. The app — MI COVID Alert — allows Michiganders to anonymously share their positive test results with individuals who they may have had a close contact with.
“This app has the potential to provide the kind of early exposure notification that is critical to preventing the spread of the virus,” said Dr. Norman Beauchamp Jr., Michigan State University’s executive vice president for health sciences, in a press release.
“In addition to wearing a mask, social distancing and getting tested, downloading the app is one of the most important steps we can take to help keep our communities safe.”
When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a randomly generated PIN from the state or their local health department, which will allow them to share their test results anonymously through the app.
The app uses randomly generated phone codes and Bluetooth technology instead of GPS location to protect privacy while looking back at possible close contacts with other phones that have the app.
MI COVID Alert will send a push notification if someone you had a close contact with — meaning you were within 6 feet of them for at least 15 minutes — inputted a positive COVID-19 test result into their app.
A trial run of the app by Michigan State University and Ingham County had 46,704 people — or about 16% of the county’s population — download MI COVID Alert. State officials said even 15% of Michiganders using the app could reduce infections and deaths.
Monday’s announcement comes as the state reported a two-day total of 9,010 new cases and 62 new deaths for Sunday and Monday. Michigan is averaging 4,559 cases and 40 deaths per day over the last week.
The state is also seeing rises in hospitalizations and positive test rates. As of Monday, MDHHS reported 2,826 hospitalized patients with known or suspected cases of COVID-19, and Sunday’s positive test rate was 11.7%.
While the tracing app is meant to assist current efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus, state officials say it’s not meant as a replacement for wearing a mask, washing your hands regularly, contact tracing and practicing social distancing.
“COVID cases and deaths are now rising fast,” said Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS, in a prepared statement. “Using MI COVID Alert on your cell phone is a simple, safe step that everyone can take to protect themselves and their loved ones. It’s free, it’s easy, and it protects your privacy.”
The MI COVID Alert app was announced by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Technology, Management and Budget. It is available for download in the Apple and Google app stores.
States with similar notification apps include Virginia, Arizona, New York, Alabama and New Jersey. Michigan’s app should be compatible with the others.
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