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Pennsylvania launches new virus exposure notification app

The Associated Press
The Samsung Galaxy Fold smartphone is seen during a media preview event in London, Tuesday April 16, 2019. Samsung is hoping the innovation of smartphones with folding screens reinvigorates the market. (AP Photo/Kelvin Chan)

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s new coronavirus exposure-notification app is now available on app stores.

The release of the app Tuesday is part of Pennsylvania’s effort to more quickly break chains of transmission by using the new technology to notify people who may have been exposed.

The state has a $1.9 million contract, using federal grant dollars, to deploy and maintain the app with software developer NearForm Ltd, an Ireland-based company whose app there has been downloaded by more than one-fourth of that country’s residents.

The app is based on smartphone technology developed by Apple and Google.

The app is interoperable with the state of Delaware’s app, which released last week, and it will be interoperable with those of other states when they launch on the NearForm platform, state officials say.

Use will be limited to people 18 and over.

More:State health department warns of COVID-19 contact tracing scams

It is designed to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the coronavirus, and state officials say the app does not store location information, personal information or the identify of anyone who is in close enough range to possibly be exposed.

In addition to exposure notification, the Pennsylvania app has a data feature that allows the user to see up-to-date information on case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths by county, as well a feature that helps the user to monitor their symptoms even if they have not tested positive.