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Virginia Releases App to Alert People of Contact with Carriers of COVID-19

| August 5, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam holds a COVID-19 press conference on August 5, 2020.

A new smart phone app released Wednesday will allow people to learn if they have been in the same place at the same time as someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Virginia’s Gov. Ralph Northam promoted the free app called “COVIDWISE” at his Aug. 5 press conference. Virginia is the first state to offer it or any similar technology; it has been created specifically for Virginia residents.

The app is free and available for popular mobile smart devices through Apple and Google app stores. People who use the app will be automatically notified if they have possibly come in contact with someone who has reported to the app that they have tested positive for COVID-19. Reporting is voluntary.

“It does not track or store your personal information. It does not track you at all,” Northam said. Northam emphasized people do not need to worry about privacy concerns. The information is not reported anywhere, not sold or distributed and does not use GPS tracking. Rather, the app uses low energy Blue Tooth technology between phones.

The information provided will allow users to get tested even before any symptoms are present, or are asymptomatic. Those who test positive for COVID-19 can then get immediate treatment, begin to self-quarantine and protect others.

Reporting to the app is anonymous, and no one is required to use the app, nor are users required self-report if they have COVID-19. The app does not work through other means besides self-reporting.

Gov. Northam encourages all Virginians to download and use it, describing it as a, “useful tool to have in the toolbox.” The Virginia Department of Health believes it will reduce the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state.

More info on the app here. 

Virginia has added another weapon in its arsenal to the fight the spread of COVID-19. The Commonwealth is in the process of purchasing 500,000 rapid antigen tests to detect COVID-19 proteins. These “rapid” tests provide results in just 15-20 minute and are easy to administer. A medical technician inserts a long cotton swap up and to the back of a person’s nostril. Since people receive results immediately, they can avoid self-quarantining while they wait days or weeks for their results. And they provide peace of mind.

Testing delays have made COVID-19 hard to track, said Northam, so this is another way to reduce spreading the virus.

Antigen tests have been available in Virginia in limited locations, but they will now be standard and widespread. To afford the tests Virginia purchased collaboratively with Maryland, Michigan, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Ohio and North Carolina. The tests have all been approved by Food & Drug Administration.

Between rapid testing and ramped up reporting, Northam is hopeful that Virginia can progress in easing COVID-19 restrictions.

Northam also addressed the fact that after flattening the curve COVID-19 cases have been on the rise in July.The Eastern part of the state has the greatest percent positive cases. Since then, Northam placed restrictions on bars and restaurants serving alcohol in the Hampton Road area.

Those numbers have decreased since their peak in July. The percent positive rates in Hampton Roads area has fallen from 10 to 7 percent.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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