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Massachusetts testing Bluetooth app that alerts users of possible coronavirus exposure


Massachusetts public health officials are testing a Bluetooth app that alerts users if they have potentially been exposed to the coronavirus — a “new tool in our toolbox to fight COVID,” Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone tells the Herald.

The cities of Somerville and Methuen are starting a pilot program for the MassNotify app on Monday.

MassNotify can send users an “exposure alert” if they were in close contact with someone who anonymously shared through the app that they tested positive for COVID-19.

“This new tool we’re piloting is another resource we have to contain the virus,” Curtatone said on Sunday.

“It’s a new tool in our toolbox to fight COVID,” the mayor added. “We have to do everything we can to interrupt the transmission from person to person.”

MassNotify is a new state Department of Public Health service developed in partnership with Google and Apple to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Residents have to opt-in to the anonymous service on their iPhone or Android phone.

If users choose to enable MassNotify, their phone will share anonymous Bluetooth codes with other phones nearby. If a user tests positive, they can choose to anonymously alert other MassNotify users, so they know about the possible exposure.

This private exposure alert will tell the user that they may have been exposed to COVID-19. The app will then send them information to help them get tested.

“Hopefully this technology can be scaled up for other municipalities to help stay ahead of any future outbreaks,” Curtatone said.



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