Big Island Coronavirus Updates

COVID-19 Notification App Now Available to Hawaiʻi County Residents

December 29, 2020, 6:08 PM HST
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A COVID-19 exposure notification application is now available to Hawaiʻi County residents.

AlohaSafe Alert is the State of Hawaiʻi’s official app for smartphones that allows notification to participating users of exposure to someone who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus. The technology aims to slow the spread of the virus.

“Each notification is pertinent to the individual user and is only triggered if minimum thresholds of exposure are met,” according to a press release from Hawaii County. “The user can opt-in or out of notifications at any time.”

Users who test positive for COVID-19 will receive a text message on their phone that will allow them to make their device-detectable and alert other users of their exposure. The application is voluntary and protects the privacy of individuals, meaning that no personal data ever leaves the phone – unless the owner chooses to share the information with the Department of Health.

Hawaiʻi County Mayor Mitch Roth expressed his excitement over the community-led innovation that harnesses technology to help privately track exposure to the virus.

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“We understand that this app will not reach everyone, however, it’s an additional tool that will speed up the contact notification process and puts the health and safety of our community right at our fingertips,” Roth said.

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Combined with other measures, Roth said if 15% of the community uses AlohaSafe Alert, infections could be reduced by 8% and deaths by 6%.

“Doing all we can to stop the spread of COVID-19 is our kuleana, which I why I encourage us all to download the app today and help to make our county a healthier and safer place for everyone,” the mayor added.

The COVID-19 exposure notification app and is available for free on both Apple and Android devices. The application was developed in partnership between the Hawai‘i State Department of Health (DOH), the aio Foundation, and the Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative (HEC).

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“We’re thankful for the partnership and support from Mayor Roth and Hawai‘i Island leaders. Adoption of the app by residents will be key to maximizing the potential of AlohaSafe Alert,” said Lynelle Marble, executive director of Hawai‘i Executive Collaborative, the nonprofit organization helping to lead community adoption of the app across the state.

Currently, there are 17 other states and 19 other countries that are using this technology to track exposure to COVID-19 in order to slow the spread of the virus. Studies from Oxford show that for every two people that opt-in to use the app, one infection can be avoided.

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