California Announces Statewide Expansion of COVID-19 Notification App
Californians can opt in to receive COVID-19 notifications from CA Notify, informing them if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus.
Sacramento, California – On Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the statewide launch of the CA Notify app. The rollout of the digital tool that runs on smart phones is intended to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Starting Thursday, December 10, Californians can opt in to receive COVID-19 notifications on their smart phones from CA Notify, informing them if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus.
According to a press release from the governor’s office, the digital tool “does not collect device location to detect exposure and does not share a user’s identity.”
The tool was developed in partnership with Google and Apple and piloted with the help of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the University of California, San Francisco. Campus Safety reported last month that the contact tracing app helped UCSD keep coronavirus cases below 50 in the first month of classes. The app helped identify exposed individuals early, allowing them to quickly quarantine and reduce the transmission of the virus.
The Google-Apple smartphone-based notification app was originally only available to UCSD students, However, on November 30, UC San Diego Health patients, anyone who tested at the school or anyone who has been treated by the system in the past year was granted full access to the app.
Starting Thursday, December 10, all Californians can enable CA Notify in their iPhone settings or on Android phones by downloading the CA notify app from the Google Play Store. Californians may start receiving alerts from their phones on Thursday, December 10.
According to the press release:
When individuals voluntarily activate CA Notify, the tool uses Bluetooth technology to exchange random codes between phones without revealing the user’s identity or location. If a CA Notify user tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a verification code to plug into the app, if they choose. Any other CA Notify users who have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more of the COVID-19 positive individual will get an anonymous notification of possible exposure. CA Notify will accelerate how quickly people get notified of a possible COVID-19 exposure, giving people the information they need to make responsible decisions around quarantine and testing. Users who have tested positive for COVID-19 will get a text from the California Department of Public Health at 855-976-8462 with a code which they can enter into CA Notify triggering an alert to phones of people who may have been exposed in the previous 14 days.
Usage of the app — along with wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distancing – will hopefully reduce the spread of the coronavirus statewide.
The New York Times estimates that nearly 20,000 Californians have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. Nearly 285,000 people in the U.S. have died from the virus.
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