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State launches virus app

LANSING (AP) — The state health department and Michigan State University on Thursday launched a voluntary smartphone app to notify people if they have been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, a step toward potentially taking the technology statewide.

MI COVID Alert, which is available for download, is starting as pilot in the Lansing area. A person testing positive for the virus is given a PIN by contact tracers that allows them to share their result anonymously on the app, which uses cellphone location information and Bluetooth technology.

Other app users who possibly were within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of the infected person for at least 15 minutes are notified and urged to monitor for symptoms, be tested and self-isolate. They are not told who tested positive.

States such as New York, North Carolina, New Jersey, Virginia, Arizona, Alabama and Rhode Island have launched similar apps.

Robert Gordon, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, said the technology is an additional way to contain COVID-19 besides traditional tracing efforts.

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