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COVID Alert Pa

September 23, 2020

Colleagues,

As the college continues its COVID–19 mitigation efforts, we are pleased to share with you an additional tool that is available to aid our efforts against this disease. Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) launched the COVID Alert PA app. This free mobile app is designed to help reduce the spread of the disease. It is an alert system that can quickly notify people who may have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID–19. The app is anonymous; it does not enable any location or tracking services. According to the DOH’s website, the app works as follows:  

The app uses Exposure Notification System technology developed by Apple and Google. If an app user is too close for too long to someone (who also uses the app on their phone) who later receives a positive COVID–19 diagnosis, this individual will receive a call from the Department of Health or County or Municipal Health Department within 24–72 hours. A public health representative will ask if the positive COVID–19 individual is willing to accept a six-digit validation code from the DOH. If the individual agrees and enters the six-digit code in the app, this individual will be given the option to upload the last 14 days of random Bluetooth interactions with other app users who have been in close contact (for example, within six feet for more than 15 minutes) with this individual. If there is a match, then the app will notify the necessary individuals to let them know they came in close contact with someone who was diagnosed with COVID–19. This is called an Exposure Alert or a Close Contact Alert. The app never collects or reveals the identity of any person using the app, and never reveals who has been diagnosed as positive for COVID–19. For more information, we recommend watching this video.

What is traditional contact tracing?

All positive COVID–19 test results are required to be reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Within 24–72 hours of receiving the positive result, a trained public health staff member conducts an interview with the positive individual to obtain a list of close contacts he or she had while infectious. Individuals are considered to be infectious beginning two days before onset of symptoms or two days before the date of the positive result if the person did not have symptoms. These individuals are encouraged to utilize calendars, social media, etc., to remember where and who they were around during their infectious period. During the interview, the public health staff member will attempt to obtain as much information as possible on the contacts (address, phone, email, etc.) and then share the contact information with the designated contact tracers. Contact tracers reach out to educate, inform and support those who had a known close contact with a COVID–19 positive individual through phone calls, texts, emails and mailings. To protect patient privacy, close contacts are only informed that they may have been exposed to an individual with COVID–19. The identity of the individual who tested positive for COVID–19 is never shared.

We are encouraging students, faculty, administrators and staff to download this free app to your phones. Doing so will expand our capacity to receive exposure alerts without compromising your privacy or personal information. You can download this app by searching “COVID alert” or “COVID PA” in your Apple App Store or Google play store

Additional information on the app may be found via COVID Alert PA FAQ.

Thank you for supporting CCAC’s mitigation efforts.

Sincerely,

Dr. Charlene Newkirk
Southeast Region President
COVID–19 Co-Chair

Dr. Evon Walters
Northwest Region President
COVID–19 Co-Chair