Wisconsin launches new COVID-19 contact tracing app

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin launched a new COVID-19 contact tracing app Wednesday, Dec. 23. The hope is it will help stop the spread in Wisconsin. 

The "Wisconsin Exposure Notification" app is provided by the state and it will alert you if you have been around someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If a person tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a code and then they can type that code in to alert others. 

“I’m not sure if I could necessarily name those individuals if my contacts were in a grocery store for example so it really fills in a gap of that recall that’s challenging," said Ajay Sethi, UW Madison infectious disease epidemiologist and associate professor.

Using Bluetooth technology, the app tells you if you’ve been around someone who tested positive for COVID-19. But both people must opt-in to the service, and allow notifications. The state said users are anonymous.

“If you can get your friends and family to opt in and they do the same for their friends and extended family then you create this, sort of network within your social network, your family network," Sethi explained.

If you’re an Android user, you’ll have to download the app from your Google Play Store.

For iPhone users, go to your Settings, open your Exposure Notifications and turn them on for Wisconsin.

Health experts say the app does not collect your information and you remain anonymous.

“This doesn’t take GPS data, location data, doesn’t know your apple id or user IDs," Sethi said. "All it takes is date, sort of time that you’ve been in proximity with somebody else, and a random number that’s generated frequently, so your id is changing constantly as well.”

Sethi said this app is not like some other apps, and games.

He said it does not harvest your information to sell to advertisers.

Officials say the app has the potential to be a helpful tool. 

"If everybody or many people are buying into the app and they download and use it effectively it is actually going to help us implement an efficient contact tracing," said Oguz Alagoz, industrial systems engineering professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

The app is free to download. CLICK HERE for more information. 

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