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Hawaii app that warns of COVID exposure experiences spike in activations

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The state’s AlohaSafe Alert app has been experiencing a spike in the number of activations along with the delta surge in the Hawaiian islands.

The free exposure notification app launched by the Hawaii Department of Health in partnership with Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative and others, went live statewide in January of this year after a pilot run on Lanai.

The app uses bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been exposed to the coronavirus to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Devices with the app automatically “ping” each other, measuring the strength of the bluetooth signal and duration of interaction.

The AlohaSafe Alert app reached a milestone of 1 million activations at the end of July, and now has 1.12 million activations, which means 120,000 more people have enabled the app since then.

If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a secure code from the Health Department. When the individual uploads that code to the app, the system will send an anonymous message to anyone with the app that had been within six feet of them for at least 15 minutes over the last 14 days.

In August alone, over 800 people who tested positive for COVID redeemed their codes from DOH through the AlohaSafe Alert app, surpassing the 600 redeemed from January to July combined.

That means 57.1% of the code activations for the app took place this month.

The use of the app is intended to supplement, not replace, contact tracing efforts by the state Health Department. It is part of a nationwide effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 by anonymously alerting people if they have potentially been exposed, allowing them to self-quarantine, get tested and seek medical advice sooner rather than later.

More than a dozen other U.S. states are participating in the Google Apple Exposure Notification system, with their own versions of the app, which are interoperable with the AlohaSafe Alert app.

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.

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