Virginia becomes first state to use Google and Apple’s contact-tracing API

Apple and Google combined to create the Exposure Notification API that will help trace coronavirus cases and alert those who may have contacted someone who’s tested positive for the virus. Today, Virginia announced it’s the first state to use the codeveloped API to create its own coronavirus contact-tracing app.

Dubbed COVIDWISE, Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) new contact-tracing app uses Bluetooth to exchange random identifiers with nearby smartphones. It then checks those identifiers against a list of people who’ve reported testing positive for COVID-19. If you were within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, the app will notify you of potential exposure.

Privacy is of the utmost importance, and the VDH makes that clean in saying, “No names! No location!”

“VDH takes your privacy and confidentiality very seriously. This is why we chose to use the Apple and Google BLE framework. No personal data or location tracking occurs within this app. In fact, there is no need for VDH to know where or who you are for COVIDWISE to work. If you are close enough to another app user, the BLE technology will share signals with that user.”

Virginia is currently the only state using this contact-tracing API, but North Dakota, Alabama and South Carolina have committed to releasing their own apps based on it.

Virginians can download the COVIDWISE iOS app at the Apple App Store and the Android app at the Google Play now.