Michigan testing pilot COVID app to alert possible exposures: How it works

Pilot program begins in East Lansing area

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The state of Michigan has launched a pilot app that alerts residents to possible COVID-19 exposure.

The new app, MI COVID Alert, developed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) and Michigan State University (MSU), is being tested on MSU’s campus and in surrounding communities.

The State of Michigan says it will evaluate expansion of the app statewide based on results of the pilot program.

How it works

MI COVID Alert is a voluntary, anonymous exposure notification smartphone app available at no cost. By submitting a non-identifying code provided by the public health department, app users with COVID-19 can confidentially alert students, faculty and staff, and others who may have also been exposed to the virus.

When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they receive a pin from the local health department or State of Michigan case investigators that allows them to share their test results anonymously on the app. MI COVID Alert uses low energy Bluetooth technology to detect nearby phones that also have the app.

Michigan worked with Apple and Google to make MI COVID Alert compatible with similar apps in other states. If a MI COVID Alert user has been in close contact with someone who submitted a positive COVID-19 test result, a push notification will be sent to their phone once the positive test result is entered into the system.

A notification means the app user was possibly within six feet for at least 15 minutes of someone who tested positive and shared their result. The app works in conjunction with traditional contact tracing, mask-wearing, hand washing and social distancing, but is not a replacement for these precautions or participation in contact tracing. It is another, possibly faster way to know about possible exposure to COVID-19.

How to download

The exposure notification feature included in recent iOS and Android operating system updates only works with a companion app like MI COVID Alert. The app is available in the Apple and Google app stores.

Also see: 4 differences between first Michigan COVID spike and now


About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter.