The COVID Alert PA App (App) is made available by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH). The App is designed to assist in alerting individuals that came in close proximity with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, and to provide information about the virus and steps for controlling the spread of the virus.
The use of this App is entirely voluntary, and it is available to download for free from the Apple App Store. The App runs on iPhones that support iOS 13.5 and higher. You must be at least 18 years of age in order to accept these terms and use the App. If you are between the ages of 13 and 17, you can only use this App if your parent or legal guardian has reviewed and agreed to the use of the App on your behalf. A parent or legal guardian must confirm that you can use the App by consenting upon download and initial usage of the App. The App is not intended for use by children under the age of 13.
How the COVID Alert PA App works
As opposed to the traditional contract tracing process where a positive COVID-19 individual may not even remember who they have been in contact with recently and for how long (for example, if the contact happened on a bus or a train or some other public venue), the App uses technology developed by Apple and Google where anonymous Random IDs (pseudo random alpha numeric values) are exchanged between mobile phones. A Random ID is generated by the phone every 10 to 20 minutes to maintain privacy and security. If you are close to someone who also uses the App on their phone, your Random ID will be saved on that person’s phone and their Random ID will be saved on your phone. All Random IDs collected will remain on your mobile device, but neither you, nor anyone else, will be able to see them. These anonymous Random IDs cannot reveal your identity to other users, DOH, Apple, Google or anyone else.
If an individual receives a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, they will receive a call from DOH or their local county or municipal health department within 24-72 hours for case investigation and contact tracing purposes. If that individual has the App downloaded a 6-digit validation code will be sent to them via SMS/text message to be entered into the App, which then gives the individual the option to upload their Random IDs to a DOH diagnosis keys server.
Users who were in close contact with a positive COVID-19 individual who submitted their 6-digit code in the app will receive an Exposure Alert. The app knows when to provide the user with an Exposure Alert by downloading the latest diagnosis keys from the server every four hours and checking for matches. These diagnosis keys are checked for matches against the Random IDs of the contacts that have been collected by your phone. If there is a match, you will be notified in the app that you were in close contact with a person who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19. This is called an “Exposure Alert. To ensure that Exposure Alerts work properly, users must have COVID-19 Exposure Notification Services (ENS) enabled on their phone. Users have the option to enable the COVID-19 ENS and permit their phone to display notifications when they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Users can turn off this functionality in the settings page of the App.
In the event you receive an Exposure Notification, you will be offered advice on the Exposure Notification Information screen, and if you would like to speak with a public health representative, you can provide your phone number and someone from DOH will call you.
It is important to note that both traditional contact tracing and the App never reveal the identity of any person using the App to other App users, and never reveal who has been diagnosed as positive for COVID-19. Also, if you do not want a call from a public health representative and do not enter your phone number, DOH will not know whether you have received an Exposure Notification.
COVID-19 vaccine metrics and resources including Your Turn Eligibility tool and find vaccine provider locations near you.
App now available on older iOS devices with iOS version 12.5 and higher.
Ratings and Reviews
Good app, wealth of info, one flaw
This is an excellent app overall. Data breakdowns and trends. The only flaw is that it appears the only users are the ones taking this seriously and be cautious. The “how are you feeling today” rates have never changed % wise where actual state numbers in the app vary. Still a good app, shame not everyone uses it. It could be amazingly helpful.
Horrible, horrible, AWFUL app!
When I opened the app initially, it was fine. It had a nice look and it was requesting information as I would expect any app to do. Then, my phone started getting incredibly hot, like too hot to handle comfortably and I have a silicone case!
Okay, so I set the phone down and continued to use the app because, I figured, what could possibly go wrong when a phone gets 160 degrees, right? Before I finished registering, the app would keep crashing. I tried this several times until the app actually crashed other apps that I had open! I haven’t seen this happen many times before but I went ahead because, hey, maybe it’s just a bad first impression and I should give it at least 15 chances to not fail, right? Onward!
Finally, I registered the application, poked around a bit, my phone still feeling like I imagine a tin roof would feel in Calcutta in the middle of July and exited. This started the long-awaited cooldown period for my phone. Take a breath!
Later this morning, I come back to it and open the app only to find that I have to *re*register. The login that I had created wouldn’t work to get back in and I spent maybe a little less time registering the second time (it always takes longer the first time, doesn’t it?)... aaaaaand my phone’s burning my hands again.
Alright, well... this is where I am with this. I’ll give you more feedback later!
Developer Response ,
Thank you for letting us know. We are sorry to hear that you are having trouble with the app. Please email us at ra-dh-CovidApp@pa.gov and provide more information about your device so we can assist you.
I’ve read complaints about functionality, battery drain and do on. My concern is validity, does it do what is claims. I have had the app since shortly after release. Since then, I have had contact with over 8 individuals that I know have had and tested positive for COVID. I have yet to receive anything like an alert or any response alerting me of that. Not sure if there are too many existing variables to ensure functionality but I’m not convinced that the app is doing what it claims. This would be an immensely valuable app if it worked. Yes, I have all notifications and all else turned on.
Data Not Linked to You
The following data may be collected but it is not linked to your identity:
- Usage Data
Privacy practices may vary, for example, based on the features you use or your age. Learn More
- Executive Office of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- 24.2 MB
- Requires iOS 12.0 or later.
English, German, Simplified Chinese, Spanish
- Age Rating
- 12+ Infrequent/Mild Medical/Treatment Information
- © Executive Office of The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania