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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Virginia's health department released a coronavirus contact tracing app on Wednesday that relies on a Bluetooth-based system designed by Apple and Google.

Why it matters: Adoption of COVID-19 tracing tech in the U.S. has been limited compared to other countries — and tracking who has possibly been exposed to the virus (and promptly notifying them) is crucial to stem the spread.

How it works: The app logs when smartphone users come into close contact via Bluetooth.

  • If two people download the app and are in proximity long enough to risk spreading the coronavirus, their phones log that contact.
  • Virginia's health department says user location is never collected in the app. Distance between two people is calculated by the strength of the Bluetooth signal between their devices instead of GPS.
  • If a person tests positive, the Virginia Department of Health will provide a PIN number to report that result on the app.
  • Once someone logs in the app that they have tested positive, 14 days worth of their contact with other users is shared to the system.

The big picture: Apple and Google unveiled their system in early April, and although the companies say that 20 U.S. states and territories are "exploring" apps, Virginia is reportedly one of the first states with fully deployed results.

Our thought bubble via Axios' Ashley Gold: This contact tracing app will only work if people download it and are willing to share their test results. Otherwise, its impact will be limited.

Go deeper: Americans are on board with contact tracing as long as it doesn't involve cellphone data

Go deeper

Nov 12, 2020 - Health

87-year-old Rep. Don Young tests positive for COVID

Young arrives for a news conference outside of the Capitol in March 2019. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the oldest member of Congress, tweeted Thursday that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Why it matters: At 87 years old, Young is part of the age group at "greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19," according to the CDC.

Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski tests positive for coronavirus

Corey Lewandowski. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Corey Lewandowski, a senior adviser for President Trump's re-election campaign, has tested positive for the coronavirus, the New York Times reported. Lewandowski confirmed to CNN that he tested positive.

Why it matters: Lewandowski is the latest person to test positive after he attended last week's White House election night party. His diagnosis comes after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson tested positive for the virus.

Nov 12, 2020 - Health

Chicago issues stay-at-home advisory as COVID-19 cases spike

Photo: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced a stay-at-home advisory and a 10-person cap on social gatherings to combat a surge in new COVID-19 infections.

Why it matters: Lightfoot warned that Chicago could see 1,000 or more additional coronavirus-related deaths this year if steps are not taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Chicago has recorded an average of 1,920 cases a day over the last seven days, up from an average of 1,410 daily cases the week prior, per data from the city's Department of Public Health.