The Wolf Administration announced Wednesday, it will begin using the national Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system to provide important public messages about the COVID-19 pandemic.
This follows shortly after announcements by Governor Tom Wolf, who signed the third renewal of his 90-day Proclamation of Disaster Emergency for COVID-19, and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine’s updated travel order.
Pennsylvanians sawe their first message sent statewide today, with the option to target specific regions of the state for future messages. If one region of the state is experiencing an exceptionally high surge in COVID-19 cases, cellphone users in that region may receive an alert with information about staying at home or where to find an available COVID-19 testing site in their area.
WEA is a national public safety system that allows customers who own compatible mobile devices to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. The WEA system is commonly used to issue time-sensitive and life-saving alerts, such as Amber Alerts or severe weather warnings.
The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau allows the state, as an authorized alert originator of messages, to use the WEA system as a COVID-19 communications tool.
According to the FCC, since its launch in 2012, the WEA system has been used nearly 56,000 times to warn the public about dangerous weather, missing children, and other critical situations – all through alerts on compatible cell phones and other mobile devices.