By Mike Kruzman /

A new phone app will help notify residents on possible exposure to coronavirus. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michgan Department of Technology Management and Budget has rolled out MI COVID Alert, a coronavirus notification app.

The app is voluntary, free, and anonymous. It lets users know whether they may have recently been exposed to COVID-19. Users also can confidentially submit a positive test result to the app, and alert others in recent proximity that they may have been exposed. When a person tests positive, they receive a randomly generated PIN from their local health department or State of Michigan case investigators that allows them to share the test result anonymously. MI COVID Alert then uses randomly generated phone codes and Bluetooth technology instead of GPS locations to protect privacy while looking back in time to determine close contact with other phones that have the app. A push notification is then sent to the phones of people who were in close contact.

According to a release from the state health department, research from Oxford University finds a potential to reduce infections and deaths with as little as 15% of a population uses a notification app. The app was piloted in Ingham County and on the campus of Michigan State University in October. In that time, nearly 47,000 people representing roughly 16% of the county’s total population downloaded it. State officials have worked with both Apple and Google to even make MI COVID Alert compatible with similar apps in other states.

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