PA officials want kids and teens to use their phones for COVID-19 tracking efforts

Pennsylvania officials are now turning to kids and teenagers to help them track coronavirus cases.

Until now, the COVID Alert PA app was designed for adults, to help with warnings and contact tracing.

Now, Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine wants mobile phone users as young as 13 to download and use the app, with parental consent.

“While the app has been available to Pennsylvanians 18 and older, we wanted to ensure more residents had access to these resources and can be notified if exposed to COVID-19," Dr. Levine said.

“By expanding the age range, we can hopefully increase the number of individuals who download the app, increasing its effectiveness to help control the spread of this dangerous virus, especially in school settings," she continued. "I encourage everyone to download COVID Alert PA and answer the call to wash your hands, social distance, and wear a mask so we can unite together against COVID-19.”

With schools relying on hybrid models and some winter sports moving forward, state officials want to make sure kids and teens are participating in contact tracing.

"The Pennsylvania Department of Education is issuing a call to action to all youth in our commonwealth: We urge you to download the free COVID Alert PA app to help slow the spread of COVID-19," said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. "Help keep yourself, your families, and your communities safe by utilizing your phone in the fight against the spread of this disease."

The app is now modified for minors age 13-to-17. Adults will also find new updates, including county-level hospitalization data.