Health Department unveils contact tracing app

JACKSON, Wyo. — The Teton Health Department announced today the official launch of a new mobile app, PathCheck SafePlaces, designed to help health departments in contact tracing efforts.

“Contact tracing is a critical piece to identifying those who may have been exposed so that the Health department can quarantine them so that we can stop the spread of COIVD-19 in Teton County,” said Teton County Health Director Jodie Pond. “Contact tracing has been used for years by public health to combat infectious disease, which is one of the most important steps to containing an outbreak.”

The app does not collect any personal data like the user’s name, contact information, or photos.

The app logs a user’s location and stores location data in five-minute increments privately on a user’s phone for 14 days. If, and only if, a person tests positive for COVID-19, that person can then share their “digital diary” with the Health Department, which will use the information to help map any contacts the person has had.

Other users of the app will get a notification if they have come into contact (within 30 feet) with an infected person, but the notification will not reveal where or exactly when the contact happened. Instead, it will give a day and a duration of time of contact.

The Path Check app creator says that preserving user’s privacy was an integral part of developing the app.

“This app is all about privacy,” said DC Shipps during a live demo of the app Friday afternoon. “None of this information will be shared with anyone, and it will never leave your device, unless you contact the Health Department.”

The app will not share or have access to any personal information like your phone number, contact list, or photos.

“The app doesn’t ask for your name or e-mail and location history is only saved on your phone, not on some kind of third-party server,” Shipps said. “And if you’ve become diagnosed, it’s your choice if you want to share your location history with the Teton County Health Department.”

The app is available for Apple and Android users.

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