Virginia releases first Apple and Google-powered COVID-19 app in U.S.

Apple and Google Logo
Apple and Google Logo (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Virginia has released its COVIDWISE exposure notification app.
  • It is the first app powered by Apple and Google's API to be released in the U.S.
  • It can notify you if you've been in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Virginia has today become the first U.S. state to release a COVID-19 exposure notification app powered by Apple and Google's contact tracing API.

Available now on both the App Store and Google Play Store, COVIDWISE is the official COVID-19 exposure notification app for the Commonwealth of Virginia's Department of Health.

As per Apple and Google's API, it will use Bluetooth Low Energy to determine when a user has had contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus. You can find out more about exposure notification and how it works in our FAQ guide.

FAQ: What is the Google-Apple COVID-19 (coronavirus) Exposure Notifications system?

As VDH explains:

COVIDWISE uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to quickly notify users who have likely been exposed so you can reduce the risk of infection for your friends and family and help Virginia stop the spread.

Users simply have to download the app and opt-in to the notification system:

Once you opt-in to the notification system, the Exposure Notifications System will generate an anonymous token for your device. To help ensure these anonymous tokens can't be used to identify you or your location, they change every 10-20 minutes.

BLE technology ensures the app won't drain your phone's battery too much. According to the VDH website, the app will download a list of anonymous tokens on a daily basis, associated with positive COVID-19 cases, checking them against the list of anonymous tokens you have encountered in the past two weeks. If any of them match, it means that someone you've been in contact with has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks. The app will notify users with further instructions accordingly.

The department notes:

Download and use of the app is 100% voluntary and you may choose to install and uninstall the app at any time. However, we strongly encourage your participation as it will help improve the overall effectiveness of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

The Department has its own comprehensive set of FAQs covering questions around the app's functionality, use, submitting positive tests, personal information and privacy, and more.

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Stephen Warwick