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'Covid Watch Arizona' app helping fight coronavirus at University of Arizona

“It sends out an anonymous notification to them, so you have no idea who it was you were in contact with that tested positive,” Professor Kacey Ernst said.

ARIZONA, USA — The University of Arizona's fight against COVID-19 now includes an app. 

It’s called Covid Watch Arizona and it notifies users when they have come into contact with the virus. Here is how it works:

When a Covid Watch Arizona user tests positive for COVID-19, they can share the results with the app, which then sends alerts out to other phones the user's phone came in contact with.

“It sends out an anonymous notification to them, so you have no idea who it was you were in contact with that tested positive,” said Kacey Ernst, a professor at University of Arizona College of Public Health. 

According to Ernst, anonymity exists because the app only uses unidentifiable data transferred via Bluetooth signals. That’s also how it tracts who users have been in contact with in recent weeks. 

“The primary advantages are really that this can notify you much more quickly if you have potentially been exposed to somebody who has COVID-19,” Ernst said. “And then you can also be notified by people who you don’t know.”

To ensure only confirmed positive COVID-19 tests are entered, users must input a number assigned to their tests. 

University of Arizona labs are already participating. The expectation is labs across the state will soon be on board followed by nation-wide collaborations. 

“We expect that it will be able to notify people even if they’re using an app from a different state,” Ernst explained.  

You can download the application on the iPhone app store here or the Google Play Store here.

To help keep our campus safe, download and set up the Covid Watch Arizona app. That's it. Once the app is set up, it runs in the background, just like any other app on your phone.