By  – Reporter, Pittsburgh Business Times

Pennsylvania next month will roll out a new app that will notify residents if they are close contacts of someone with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

Covid Alert Pa is being developed for the Pennsylvania Department of Health with the University of Pennsylvania, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an Irish app maker called NearForm that built a Covid-19 tracker for the Irish government.

“This app uses Bluetooth technology to let a person know that they have been exposed to Covid-19 without compromising their identity or location,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Levine made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday.

One of the persistent challenges in stemming the outbreak has been notifying people who have come within six feet of an infected person for a minimum of 15 minutes. It’s sometimes hard, for example, for people who are facing a Covid-19 diagnosis to tell a case investigator all the places they’ve been and for how long. And, said Levine, if an infected person had been in a store or a restaurant or somewhere else, it’s likely they didn’t know the names and contact numbers of everyone they were in contact with.

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The Irish Echo

Last year, two million visitors from North America visited the Emerald Isle.

That stunning figure – fully one-in-ten of all Americans who travelled to Europe on vacation made Ireland their destination — was the fruits of two decades of hard work by Tourism Ireland, the cross-border agency set up as part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Fast forward to the summer of 2020, however, and, courtesy of our new lodger Covid-19, the total number of American holiday-makers in Ireland would hardly fill a Paddywagon tour bus.

For while there is no complete ban on travellers from the US travelling to Ireland — though that option is being mulled over in government corridors in Dublin — the necessity to quarantine for 14 days on arrival means only the bravest, long-stay vacationers are boarding the EI 104 from JFK to Dublin.

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HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania — A contact-tracing app that was downloaded by one-fifth of Ireland in 36 hours might undergo a pilot project in Pennsylvania that could go live in the coming weeks as part of an effort to more quickly contain coronavirus outbreaks by notifying people who may have been exposed, a state Health Department official said Wednesday.

The state Department of Health otherwise has said little about its plans for the app, other than it is seeking to introduce a mobile app and a $1.9 million contract with software developer NearForm Ltd of Ireland to deploy and maintain it.

At a hearing organized by state House Democrats, Lindsey Mauldin, a special assistant to state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, said department personnel are working with researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to figure out how to use the app in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is also working with Delaware, and surrounding states could join, Mauldin told lawmakers.

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Cork cargo link shaves week off US supply chain
Irish pharma, drinks and dairy sail directly to Philadelphia in 10 days

Shawn Pogatchnik

Exports of pharmaceuticals, dairy goods and drinks are reaching American markets at record speed by sea since the launch of Ireland’s first direct shipping cargo link to the US.

John Kirkland, managing director of Independent Container Line (ICL), confirmed it is winning business from other routes since launching its weekly service from the deep-sea terminal at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, bound for the US port of Chester, south-west of Philadelphia.

It is the first direct container service to the US from Ireland.

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