Students Using COVIDWISE: Virginia’s COVID App

Emanda Seifu, Editor in Chief

After nearly six months in the coronavirus pandemic, Virginia became the first state to release an app that traces COVID cases. COVIDWISE is an exposure notification app that tracks and notifies people who were exposed to the virus. The goal is to spot cases faster and contain the virus. 

“COVIDWISE is another tool we have to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities during this pandemic,” said Governor Northam on Twitter. The app uses Bluetooth technology to identify when users spend time in the same area. If someone tests positive for the coronavirus, they would document the places they went into the app. COVIDWISE sends a notification to users who were in the same area at the same time. Users will then follow the instructions COVIDWISE provides if they receive an exposure notification.

“I think the app is a great idea; everyone always has their phones on them so this is a great way to do contact tracing. The app has a good way to notify others of your result and seems really easy to use,” said senior Ethan Phan. The app is simple and easy to use, and while COVIDWISE requires your location at all times in order to work properly, Phan says that the app protects users’ privacy.

“When I first learned about the app I thought it was [kind of] sketchy and I still think it is but I don’t have anything to hide so I’m not that bothered,” said junior Naina Davidar, who has not been exposed to the virus. She “hangs out with people inside [her bubble often]”. The main reason Davidar decided to download the app was because “[it’s] better to be safe than sorry”. 

My potential exposure rate is largely why I got the app,” said senior Sophia Welsh, who has not had any exposure notifications. “I rarely go out for things other than work- I tutor for a family every weekday and work at a daycare Monday mornings,” said Welsh. So far, COVIDWISE has been working well according to users and curbing the number of cases throughout the state.