Lanai residents to be first in state to test virus alert app

WAILUKU — Lanai residents will be the first in Hawaii to participate in a pilot project to test a smartphone application that provides notifications of possible COVID-19 exposure.

The state Department of Health said Lanai residents would participate in the AlohaSafe Application Pilot Project, which was scheduled to launch Wednesday, The Maui News reported.

The app is an alert tool to help reduce the notification time of potential exposure to the virus.

The AlohaSafe Alert website explains that each user is issued a random identification. The app detects the phones of other program participants and checks the information against a list of positive COVID-19 cases. Users receive exposure notifications when there is a match, without sharing personal or location information.

AlohaSafe is the only official exposure notification app in Hawaii and is part of the national Google Apple Emergency Notification protocol, health department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

AlohaSafe is a public/private partnership in collaboration with the health department to roll out digital tools to enhance health and safety during the pandemic.

The partners are working with residents and Lanai Resorts LLC, doing business as Pulama Lanai, which owns most of the island and oversees daily operations for its owner, billionaire tech mogul Larry Ellison.

Lanai residents were placed under a stay-at-home order starting Oct. 27 after coronavirus cases quickly rose from zero to about 100. Democratic Gov. David Ige has allowed the stay-at-home restriction to be lifted beginning Thursday.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said he hopes Lanai has success with the AlohaSafe app.

“I support any and all means to curb the spread of this virus in our community,” Victorino said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.


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