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More people need to download Michigan’s contact tracing app to be effective

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched the app in November
Published: Jan. 21, 2021 at 5:13 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services launched the MI COVID Alert app in November to help local health departments with contact tracing. About half a million people in Michigan have the app, which is about 10% of people the state expects use smart phones.

Many people who downloaded told News 10 they aren’t sure it’s working because they never got a notification after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.

“I was near somebody who had COVID. They tested positive with the rapid the very next day I was with them. They never got any alerts. I never got any alerts,” said Sean Yannotti, who downloaded the app late last year to help protect himself and his family. “I heard there was an app where they would be able to track COVID, alert you if you’re around anybody. I bought into it. I downloaded the free app and it hasn’t done anything for me.”

MDHHS said for the app to be effective, more people need to download the app and turn on notifications.

“It is dependent on whether those individuals in those situations have downloaded the app,” said Kirsten Simmons, MDHHS spokeswoman.

Simmons said studies on similar apps show they are effective if 15% of people download the app. Michigan isn’t quite there yet.

“We feel it is a really good start for us. But we would love to get to that 15%,” said Simmons.

Simmons said right now the biggest challenge is convincing people to download.

“This is really something that’s out there for the benefit of the residents in our community. We’re not tracking individuals,” she said.

You do need a code to put in the app if you happen to test positive for COVID. You can get that from your local health department or by calling the state’s coronavirus hotline at 211.

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