Smart Talk Tuesday: Contact tracing app unveiled and alcohol sales up everywhere but PA

Contact tracing that is utilized to identify and inform those who have come into contact with another person who has contracted COVID-19, has been described as one of, and maybe, the best way to control spread of the virus.

However, Pennsylvania still has not met goals for the number of people employed or acting as contact tracers.

The state is introducing a new mobile phone app that could be a tool to identify those who have been exposed to the virus. The app, called Covid Alert Pa, will be available later in September for download through app providers. Pennsylvanians seeking help finding testing or information can call 1-877-PA-HEALTH (1-877-724-3258).

Tuesday’s Smart Talk features Pennsylvania Department of Health Deputy Secretary for Health Innovation Meghna Patel and Communications Director April Hutcheson to discuss the app and contact tracing.

Also, during the past five-and-a-half months when many Pennsylvanians were home from work and restaurants and bars were either closed or had limited capacities, it appeared, at least anecdotally — as if more wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages were being consumed.

However, a report on June sales figures from the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association found that Pennsylvania was the only “control” state in the country where spirit sales didn’t increase by double digits and actually only went up by less than 1%.

State Wine and Spirit stores were closed for the first weeks of the pandemic and curbside sales were initially the only avenue for liquor purchases.

Was it the only factor?

Alex Baloga, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Food Merchants Association is on Smart Talk with his take.