Virginia coronavirus contract-tracing app uses Apple and Google software

The first U.S. app made from Apple and Google’s coronavirus contact-tracing software just debuted — but it’s only for people who live in Virginia. 

The app is called Covidwise and is free to download on iPhone and Android devices starting Wednesday, August 5. Covidwise uses Bluetooth technology to notify users who have likely been exposed to the coronavirus based on others who use the app. 

The app updates daily and downloads a list of all the anonymous “tokens” or keys and checks them with your personal “token.” The app’s website says that it works in the background when it’s not open and doesn’t drain your phone’s battery or data since it uses Bluetooth Low Energy. 

COVIDWISE

You can also anonymously share if you have tested positive for the coronavirus so others who have come in close contact with you and have the app will be notified. The app specifies “close contact” as being within six feet of someone for at least 15 minutes within the last 14 days. 

Covidwise was created in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Health and SpringML, according to CNBC. 

“We’re using every possible approach to fight this virus and keep Virginians healthy,” Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said in an official statement. “The Covidwise app is completely anonymous, protects personal privacy, and gives you an additional tool to protect yourself and your community.”

While the app is entirely voluntary to use and download, the Virginia Department of Health encourages people to download it since the more people who use it, the more effective the app will be at notifying people and preventing the spread of coronavirus. 

While Apple or Google did not make the app, it uses the same software the two tech giants created earlier this year. Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Japan have also created contact-tracing apps using Apple and Google’s software. 

Digital Trends reached out to Apple and Google to comment on Covidwise. We will update this story when we hear back. 

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus outbreak, visit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 page.

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