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Official Hawaii COVID-19 notification app reaches 1M activations

AlohaSafe Alert, the state’s official COVID-19 exposure notification app, has reached a million activations since its official rollout at the start of this year.

The free app, which anonymously notifies users if they have been exposed to the coronavirus using bluetooth technology, was launched statewide in January as a complement to the state’s contact tracing program.

With the highly transmissible delta variant now spreading in Hawaii, health officials say it continues to provide another tool in the battle against the coronavirus.

“Getting vaccinated is more important than ever, but to slow the recent increase in COVID-19 cases we should use all the tools at our disposal,” said Dr. Libby Char, director of the Hawaii State Department of Health, in a news release. “Wearing masks, avoiding large gatherings and utilizing AlohaSafe Alert exposure notification will help protect all of us from the spread of COVID-19.”

AlohaSafe Alert uses bluetooth technology to estimate the distance between smartphones as the apps automatically ping one another.

If a user tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a secure code from the Health Department, and may then upload it to send an anonymous alert. The alert will be sent to individuals that were within 6 feet of the infected user’s phone for at least 15 minutes over the last 14 days.

The AlohaSafeAlert app is downloadable for free from Apple or Google Play, and is also available for those with older iPhones via AlohaSafe Exposure Notification Express.

With EN Express, iPhone users can go to settings, and enable exposure notifications without having to download the app.

Developers of the app say more than 600 people have uploaded their code to anonymously report their COVID-19 infection and inform others of their risk. Both residents and visitors to Hawaii have downloaded the app, but developers said they do not have a breakdown of the ratio due to privacy protections.

Based on a preliminary analysis, they believe the technology has been effective in notifying people who may have otherwise never been alerted about their exposure, helping to prevent infections.

AlohaSafe Alert was developed through a public-private partnership with DOH, aio Digital, and the Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative. It is funded by DOH, with donations from the private sector, and is also available in Tagalog, Ilocano, Samoan, Marshallese, Chuukese, and Korean.

Besides Hawaii, 22 other states and the District of Columbia have also deployed apps using exposure notification technology.

Visit alohasafealert.org for more information.

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