By Monika Sidhu —

Premier Doug Ford announced that the province would be officially launching the COVID-19 alert app today.

The premier urged all those in Ontario to download the app for it to work as effectively as possible. According to Peter Bethlenfalvy, the president of the treasury board of Ontario, the app works by assigning a code to the device it is on. The app will ping other users within 10 meters via Bluetooth if there is potential exposure. 

Bethlenfalvy says the app is entirely private as it “never collects your health information, location or identity.”  Rather, the app will only work based off of the code on the device. 

A reporter asked about criticism found on social media regarding the app not being compatible with older phones. Bethlenfalvy replied that he was also concerned about this.

“I’m not encouraging everyone to get a new phone because of that, but I am saying, and what the premier said, what we want to see is people downloading this app,” said Bethlenfalvy. 

“I wish I had my phone in my pocket ‘cause it’s free, it’s so simple, it’s easy and it would tell us if we’re standing close to each other for over 15 minutes then it’ll ping us and if we have COVID-19 that it will give us an alert.”

There was no clarification on what needs to be done if people do not have a newer phone or software on their phone. 

Many questions at today’s briefing also focused on the school reopening plan which was announced at yesterday’s briefing. The plan states that publicly funded elementary schools will open five days a week in September while secondary schools will follow an adapted model. 

Questions were asked regarding what kind of scenarios would require testing and being sent home on a class or on the entire school. Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe said that if it were one student that tested positive, they would need to test the entire class. She said the same would be the case if a second student tested positive. 

Reflecting on schools during the SARS outbreak, Dr. Yaffe said it would be extremely rare if that the entire school would need to be shut down. 

“Almost never will this be required,” she said. 

Ford and Dr.Yaffe both warned people to not get ahead of themselves this long weekend. Dr. Yaffe said it is important to stay within you social bubble, and to ensure keeping distanced and wearing a mask outside of that bubble. 

The premier warned about the way in which the U.S. has seen an increase in COVID cases, which has hindered their reopening further. He asked the people of Ontario to not be selfish and think of others as to not end up with a surge in numbers like the U.S. 

“My friends, we don’t have to go down that road.” 

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