Lancaster Physician Winter 2021 - 27

WINTER 2021

years old and older are encouraged to add
their phone to the fight. However, if you are
between the ages of 13 and 17, you must have
a parent or legal guardian's consent to use the
app. COVID Alert PA is available in English,
Spanish, German, and Traditional Chinese.
How does COVID Alert PA work?
It is a free mobile app that uses Bluetooth
Low Energy (BLE) technology and the Exposure Notification System developed by Apple
and Google to notify people when they have
been in close contact with someone who tested
positive. Features include: 
* I nteractive COVID-19 symptom checker
*O
 pt-in to receive alerts for potential
exposures to the virus
*U
 pdates on the latest public health data
about COVID-19 in PA
*A
 dvice for what to do if you have a
potential exposure to COVID-19

COVID Alert PA protects both privacy
and personal information. The app does not
use GPS, location services, or any movement
or geographical information. It will never
collect, transmit, or store personal information. It is completely anonymous and
voluntary to download.
Despite only using Bluetooth technology,
the administration will continue to educate and
break down any stigma regarding tracking location to ensure Pennsylvanians are comfortable
using the app. We will continue to advocate
for the app and strive to encourage anyone
13 years old and older with a smartphone to
download. This app can collectively provide
a solution for notifying others of exposure,
especially when you are not aware of the close
contact's name or contact information. 
If Pennsylvanians must travel, the app is
now interoperable with exposure notification apps in the following states: Colorado,

Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia,
Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey,
New York, North Carolina, North Dakota,
and Wyoming.  There are also other states
piloting an exposure notification app with
a limited population, including California,
Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. 
How do exposure alerts work?
When someone receives a positive COVID19 diagnosis, they will receive a call from
the Department of Health, their county, or
municipal health department within 24 to 72
hours. If the person has the COVID Alert PA
app on their phone, they will be asked to enter
a 6-digit validation code in the app.
Once that person enters the 6-digit code,
they will be asked to share their random ID
(Bluetooth keys) with other app users anonymously. Other app users' phones routinely
check if they have ever been in close contact
(e.g., within six feet for 15 minutes or more)
with a phone that shared those same Bluetooth
keys. If there is a match, the app will let them
know they came in close contact with someone
who tested positive for COVID-19. This is
called an Exposure Alert.
The app never collects or reveals the identity of any person using the app, and it never
reveals who has been diagnosed as positive for
COVID-19.
If you receive a positive test result for
COVID-19 and do not receive a call from a
public health official within 24 to 72 hours,
you may call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877724-3258) and inquire.
How can exposure notifications
help reduce the spread of COVID-19?
Existing traditional contact tracing processes
rely on a positive individual to remember and
name whom they have been in contact with
recently, and for how long. In many cases,
positive COVID-19 individuals may not even
know the people they were in close contact
with (for example, if the contact happened on

a bus or train, at a check-out line in a grocery
store, a restaurant, or some other public venue).
This technology can help support traditional
contact tracing efforts by notifying more
people who have been in close contact with
a positive COVID-19 individual at a faster
rate. The app supplements traditional contact
tracing processes to help stop the rapid spread
of COVID-19.
What does this mean for physicians and
their patients?
The app helps ensure people are notified
when they have been in close contact with
someone who tested positive, so they can take
steps to protect themselves and others. Upon
receiving an alert, users are provided public
health guidance on what to do next, which
includes contacting their health care provider to
get tested for COVID-19. If someone received
an exposure alert, it means they were likely
within 6 feet for 15 minutes or longer with
someone who tested positive for COVID-19.
The app is an effective new tool, but we
need your help getting it in the hands of
Pennsylvanians.
Help get the word out-and downloads
up. Downloading the app is voluntary, but
the more Pennsylvanians who adopt the app
the more successful it will be at stopping
COVID-19. That's why we are adding their
phones to the fight.
Healthcare providers are uniquely positioned
to share information about the COVID Alert
PA app.
Physicians and administrators, please tell
others that downloading the app protects
your colleagues, patients, family, friends,
and neighbors. Check out our Community
Resources at pa.gov/covid/stop-the-spread/
community-resources for downloadable
posters, social media materials, postcards,
and other free marketing materials.
 

QUESTIONS?
For more information on COVID Alert PA, Frequently Asked Questions, and the full Data
and Privacy Statement, visit pa.gov/covid.
LANCASTER

27

PHYSICIAN


http://www.pa.gov/covid/stop-the-spread/ http://www.pa.gov/covid

Lancaster Physician Winter 2021

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