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Delaware launches COVID Alert DE app

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WILMINGTON– Governor John Carney, the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), and the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) on Tuesday launched COVID Alert DE – a mobile app available in the App Store or Google Play that will help Delaware fight community spread of COVID-19.

The free mobile app – available to anyone 18 or older who lives, works, or attends college in Delaware – 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.

By downloading COVID Alert DE, Delawareans can use their phones in the fight against COVID-19 without compromising privacy or personal information. COVID Alert DE also allows users to log symptoms and get more information on COVID-19 in Delaware.

“This app is an important tool to help Delawareans understand the risks of COVID-19, and to help fight community spread of this virus,” said Gov. Carney in a statement. “Knowing you’ve had a potential exposure and taking the basic precautions is the best way to protect your most vulnerable family members, friends, and neighbors who are at risk of serious illness. I would encourage all Delawareans to download this app and help in our fight against COVID-19.”

COVID Alert DE was created in partnership with the software developer NearForm. The app will allow for interoperability and exposure notifications across state lines in states that also have exposure notification apps and use the same Bluetooth technology developed by Apple and Google. The app is not a substitute for basic precautionary measures – including mask-wearing, social distancing in public, and frequent handwashing.

“COVID Alert DE is a new and important tool in the fight against COVID-19 because it supplements the work of the Division of Public Health’s contact tracing teams,” said Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services Molly Magarik in a statement. “Typical contact tracing relies on an individual remembering the names of people they have been in contact with – and for how long. Using the COVID Alert DE app will help to speed up the process of notifying close contacts and identifying close contacts. Because we expect younger people to embrace the app at higher rates, we are especially pleased that the University of Delaware and Delaware State University are prepared to promote the app among their students and staff.”

Users of COVID Alert DE may receive an exposure notification if they were in close proximity of someone who tested positive for COVID-19, and also has the app downloaded on their phone. Close proximity is defined as within six feet for 15 minutes or more. The app uses Bluetooth technology to recognize when other phones nearby are running the application.

“The COVID Alert DE Mobile App puts power in citizens’ hands to protect each other in the fight against COVID-19,” said Cian O’Maidin in a statement, CEO of NearForm. “The open source technology was built with privacy and data protection at its core. The app exchanges regularly-changing anonymous Bluetooth ID, to break transmission chains. The State of Delaware has taken a great approach, using technology that has been peer reviewed and rolled out successfully in Ireland and parts of the UK. We look forward to working with them to slow the spread of the virus.”

COVID Alert DE does not collect or share personal information that can identify users. The app also does not use 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.

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 (DPH) contact tracing team. An exposure alert on COVID Alert DE alone will not trigger a call from Delaware contact tracers.

“The State of Delaware takes our obligation to protect your privacy very seriously,” said Acting Chief Information Officer at the Delaware Department of Technology and Information Jason Clarke in a statement. “We want to reassure app users that your identity and location remain anonymous and that your privacy is protected at all times. The app is a tool that can be leveraged to close the gap and provide awareness for you to act upon. Using the app can help protect you and ensure you are doing your part to help protect others against COVID-19.”

Visit de.gov/covidalert for additional information about COVID Alert DE.

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