LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has confirmed the launch of a statewide text outreach aimed at increasing residents' awareness of the state's new exposure notification mobile app, MI COVID Alert. The text messages, which began this month, make it simple to connect to and download MI COVID Alert. Each text includes information about the app and a link to the michigan.gov\/MICOVIDAlert landing page on the state website with more information about how it works, details about how MI COVID Alert keeps user information anonymous, and links to Apple and Google app stores. "We want Michiganders to know this is a legitimate communication from the department as we encourage them to take this easy step to protect themselves and others by downloading the MI COVID Alert," said Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS. "The more of us download the app, the safer we'll be until a vaccine is available to the broader population." The texts encouraging Michiganders to download the app are sent to individuals based on publicly available resident contact information. Because MI COVID Alert users are anonymous, some individuals who already downloaded the app may still receive a text message. Early text messages included a short link to healthymi.site\/alert4, directing residents to the MI COVID Alert landing page. The no cost, easy-to-use, anonymous app has been downloaded nearly half a million times -- a figure that represents a little more than 9.5% of 18 to 64-year-olds in Michigan -- in the initial weeks of the statewide launch. Oxford researchers found that when just 15% of a population used an exposure notification app like MI COVID Alert, there was a potential to reduce infections and deaths. For more information about MI COVID Alert, visit michigan.gov\/MICOVIDAlert. Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov\/coronavirus and CDC.gov\/coronavirus.