The coronavirus situation is changing fast. Get alerts on your phone to stay informed


Sites like Twitter can help keep you updated on the latest coronavirus news.


Angela Lang/CNET

For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

It’s all over the news, social media and nearly everywhere you look — the novel coronavirus, now a pandemic, has been changing the way employees work and emptying store shelves. And if you don’t have time to follow the news, you’re in luck because you can have news alerts sent to your phone.

You can use sources such as Twitter, Google Alerts and your favorite news sites to receive updates and notifications about where the coronavirus is and what you can do to help keep yourself and your community safe. You can also sign up for text alerts to receive information about how many cases are in your area and what’s closing down, like schools and churches.

Read on to learn how to set up for alerts about coronavirus developments.

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Twitter can send you notifications from coronavirus sources

Twitter is a good source for learning what’s going on with the coronavirus — and it has an option to let you turn on crisis and emergency alerts. To enable this, go to your notifications settings and select Notifications > SMS Notifications > Crisis and emergency alerts.

You can also get notifications about coronavirus from Twitter accounts, but you’ll want to make sure you trust the news source — for example, The Associated Press, Reuters, BNO Newsroom, CNN and other domestic news organizations. To do so, follow the account, then tap the bell icon (located beside the Following button) and select All Tweets. Now you’ll be notified when the account tweets something new.

Google Alerts

When something new about the coronavirus shows up in Google Search, you can be among the first to know about it. To get started, go to Google Alerts and enter the topic you want to follow into the search box at the top. Change the settings to your preferences, like how often you want to see notifications, and then click Create Alert. You can always go back and adjust your settings later.

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You can get coronavirus alerts on your Apple Watch.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Apple Alerts

If you’ve got an iPhone or Apple Watch, you can receive emergency, public safety and government alerts on your device. Some information you may receive could be alerts issued by your country or region’s government, or alerts involving imminent threats to safety or life.

To turn on the notifications, go to Settings > Notifications, then scroll all the way to the bottom and toggle on Emergency Alerts and Public Safety Alerts.

News apps

Most, if not all, news apps will have a newsletter you can sign up for (in-app and online) that sends the most pressing information to your inbox. For example, the CNET Now newsletter sends one email daily that includes the most important news of the day — much of which is coronavirus-related right now. The CNET app (iPhone, Android) and CNET on Apple News also send regular news alerts, including stories about the coronavirus.

Most news apps will also send you notifications (with your permission) about breaking news alerts. After you download the apps, they will ask for your permission to send notifications and you can choose to receive alerts about breaking news only. You can update at any time in the app’s settings.

Get alerts for the city you live in

Depending on where you live, you may be able to sign up for text alerts from the city. For example, San Francisco lets its residents sign up for alerts by texting COVID19SF to 888-777. If your city doesn’t have a program like this set up yet, you may be able to sign up for statewide alerts. You can usually find these by going to [state].gov — for example, Kentucky.gov.

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