The state Department of Health on Tuesday launched its version of a contact tracing app for smartphones that can inform participants when they come into “close contact” with other participants who later test positive for the coronavirus, so those who have been exposed can protect themselves and others, in case they too become infected.

COVID Alert PA is free from the Apple App store or the Google Play store, and had been downloaded more than 28,000 times by 7:45 p.m. Tuesday.

The Apple-Google system creates anonymized digital keys that are exchanged through Bluetooth technology when participants are in close proximity without enabling the department to track participants’ identities or locations.

The procedures that follow do not reveal the identities of those who are infected to those

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