Virginia Finalizing Phone App For COVID-19 Tracking

May 21, 2020

State officials rolled out an online COVID-19 self-check tool Friday. Virginians will be able to record symptoms and get referred to testing.

It’s just one aspect of the digital effort to control the pandemic. 


 

In addition to the new online tool, Virginia officials are finalizing a tracking app - although they haven’t signed a contract yet. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday, Deputy Commissioner of Administration Mona Bector says an operational app is still at least three weeks away. 

“It will be widely available to all Virginians and we would encourage all Virginians to use it to help protect themselves and their family,” she said. 

An app could track who you come into contact with. Should you test positive, public health officials wouldn’t have to rely on your memory, but instead could go straight to your data.

Credit AP Photo / File

 

Some states, like Utah, are building their own apps. Virginia plans to rely on new technology from Apple and Google. Advocates like the ACLU have raised privacy concerns about the tactics.

“Any app that we choose will have the ability for the person to opt in, or opt out, and not be tracked as they wish,” said Bector. 

Technology aside, the heavy lift of case tracing will be done by people. State officials say they’re currently sorting through more than 6,000 resumes for contact tracers, with the goal of hiring around 1,300 people. 

The workforce will help track cases of COVID-19 and refer people with the virus to healthcare and resources.

“We also are hiring and forming kind of regional surge teams that will be able to be deployed to areas within a region should there be an outbreak or a sudden increase in cases,” said Marshall Vogt with the Virginia Department of Health.

Officials say they are confident they’ll eventually have statewide coverage, although it will take weeks to happen.

 This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.