Wisconsin set to launch COVID-19 contact tracing phone app

COVID testing advice, bewildering experts
Posted at 8:49 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 23:15:51-05

Wisconsin is adding a new tool in its fight against COVID-19 and it will be just one tap away starting on Wednesday.

The state plans to send smartphone users a push notification to download a free and voluntary contact tracing application.

Wisconsin health officials say the app will help notify people faster if they’ve come in contact with someone who has coronavirus, but the only way it will be effective is if lots of people participate.

“The app uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously share Bluetooth signals with other nearby smartphones using the app,” Governor Tony Evers said.

Governor Evers said it’s a proactive effort to assist contact tracers. The app can tell if you’ve been within 6 feet of someone who later tests positive for coronavirus for 15 minutes or more.

“If you receive a positive test for COVID-19 and you use the app, you’ll receive a text message which will ask you to activate the notification system to let other app users know that they have been exposed,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Designee Andrea Palm.

Palm said the app that was jointly created by Google and Apple does not use, collect or store any of your GPS data or personal information.

Michigan launched its version of the app more than a month ago. So far, the state said less than 10 percent of its population has downloaded it.

Calla Born and Sydney Shovan in Shorewood said they’re going to pass for now.

“Definitely, it’s always a privacy concern,” Born said. “You think that it’s tracking you all the time and it’s putting you in touch with other people.”

Oxford University studied the potential effectiveness of this app. It found that infections and deaths can be reduced if at least 15-percent of the population uses it.

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