UCSD Expands Access to Coronavirus Contact Tracing App
Campus officials say the contact tracing app helped keep COVID-19 cases below 50 in the first month of classes.
A contact tracing app launched by the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in September has worked so well at keeping coronavirus cases low on campus that health officials at the school are expanding access to it.
The Google-Apple smartphone-based notification app was originally only available to UCSD students, reports NBC San Diego. However, starting Monday, UC San Diego Health patients, anyone who tested at the school or anyone who has been treated by the system in the past year will have full access to the app.
Campus officials say the contact tracing app helped keep COVID-19 cases below 50 at UCSD in the first month of classes.
UCSD students who tested positive for the virus could tell the app to send out anonymous notifications to anyone they came into contact with in the past two weeks who also had the app. Now the app’s full functionality is being made available to a much larger group of people.
Additionally, the app’s notification function is now available to anyone in the state of California. Now, anyone can download the app and receive notifications when they come into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
The current number of coronavirus deaths in the U.S. is approximately 267,000, reports the New York Times, and the number of cases and hospitalizations is rapidly rising nationally and internationally.
The American College Health Association recommends active testing, contact tracing and other public health measures by universities to keep COVID rates among students as low as possible.
The contact tracing app used by UCSD was also launched at the University of California at San Francisco in the fall.
“The Google Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) Express tool offers a high-tech, privacy-preserving solution that automates the work of notification for you — without sharing who you are or providing unnecessary digital details that could compromise privacy,” Christopher Longhurst, MD, UC San Diego Health’s chief information officer said when the app launched.
He and other UCSD officials had hoped back in September that the app would “set the foundation for the state to offer voluntary exposure notifications to all Californians using smartphone-based technology.”
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