Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania Department of Health will this month release COVID Alert Pa., a free smartphone app that will alert users if they have come in close contact with anyone infected with the coronavirus. People who test positive for the virus can upload their status to the app. Its use is voluntary. The health department told state senators at a Sept. 8 hearing on contact tracing that the app will follow Google and Apple’s privacy guidelines. The more people who use the app, the more successful it will be in stopping the spread of the virus, the health department says. “Case investigations, contact tracing efforts and ongoing monitoring are proven public health strategies, but the success of these efforts truly relies on Pennsylvanians to do their part to answer the call,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said at Tuesday’s hearing. “We need our fellow Pennsylvanians to pick up the phone when public health professionals call, share where they went and who they came in contact with to complete a case investigation.” During a case investigation, public health professionals spend 30 to 60 minutes asking questions about all potential close contacts. The information gathered is not shared publicly unless doing so would further the response, Levine said. COVID Alert Pa. may be downloaded from Pennsylvania’s app page at pa.gov/apps when it becomes available.