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CA Notify: California launches smartphone COVID-19 tracing tool

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Posted at 7:11 AM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 10:11:52-05

(KGTV) -- A smartphone tool aimed at alerting Californians on potential exposure to the coronavirus was launched on Thursday.

According to Gov. Newsom’s office, the free CA Notify system “will help reduce the transmission of COVID-19.” Californians can opt into the digital tool “to receive COVID-19 notifications informing them if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus,” Newsom’s office said.

Officials confirmed CA Notify is “a completely private, anonymous and secure tool that does not collect location data from any device and never shares user identities.”

iPhone users can enable CA Notify by going to Settings, and then to Exposure Notifications. From there, users will have the option to Turn On Exposure Notifications. Users will then choose United States, followed by California.

Android device users who want to be notified will have to download the CA Notify app from the Google Play store.

How CA Notify functions, according to state officials:

“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.”

The CA Notify system began this fall as a pilot program at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco.