MI COVID Alert now available in two additional languages; Spanish, Arabic options make anonymous exposure app available to more Michiganders
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Dec. 30, 2020
CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112
LANSING, Mich. – Today the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Department of Technology, Management & Budget (DTMB) announced the launch of Spanish and Arabic language options for its anonymous exposure notification mobile app, MI COVID Alert.
“It is critical that we continue to recognize and find ways to meet the diverse needs of communities across our state,” said Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS. “MI COVID Alert is an important tool in our continued efforts to bring the numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths down. We’re excited that this app update will break down language barriers and ensure access for more Michiganders.”
When just 15% of a population used an exposure notification app like MI COVID Alert, researchers from Oxford University found a potential to reduce infections and deaths.
Since the statewide launch of the English language version last month, MI COVID Alert has been downloaded 481,906 times. This represents nearly 10% of Michigan residents ages 18- to 64-years-old who are likely to have smartphones.
Spanish and Arabic options are available through both the Apple and Google app stores. Users may also select and change languages by going into Settings, selecting General, and clicking Language and Region in order to choose Spanish or Arabic on their iOS or Android smartphones. Rather than using GPS, MI COVID Alert uses randomly generated phone codes and low-energy Bluetooth technology to detect distances between phones with the app. This technology protects the privacy of all users and prevents tracking someone’s exact location. No personally identifiable information is required or shared with other users and officials. When a person tests positive for COVID-19, they are eligible to receive a randomly generated PIN. This PIN allows individuals to share a positive test result anonymously in MI COVID Alert.
After a positive test result is entered into the app, close contacts – anyone within six feet for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period – will receive an anonymous push notification letting them know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and the number of days since the possible exposure took place.
App users can now retrieve a PIN three ways by:
- Answering case investigation calls from their local health department or MDHHS and requesting a PIN.
- Calling their local health department.
- Contacting the Michigan COVID-19 hotline at 2-1-1 or 888-535-6136 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Michigan worked with the app developer, as well as Apple and Google, to make MI COVID Alert compatible with apps in other states. Wisconsin, Virginia, Arizona, New York, Alabama, New Jersey and a growing number of other states have launched similar exposure notifications apps or have apps in development. MI COVID Alert works in conjunction with traditional contact tracing, proper mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing, but is not a replacement for these precautions or participation in contact tracing. People who are exposed to COVID-19 should get tested and consider quarantining for 14 days from the date of possible exposure. If a person is still symptom-free on day 10, they can end quarantine early. However, they should continue monitoring for symptoms for four additional days.
Individuals in need of testing may visit the COVID-19 website to find a testing location near them. They may also contact the Michigan COVID-19 hotline to locate and schedule an appointment.
The exposure notification feature included in recent iOS and Android operating system updates only works with a companion app like MI COVID Alert, which is available for iOS and Android phones.
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