Governor Gavin Newsom announced that starting Thursday, December 10, Californians can opt in to receive COVID-19 notifications informing them if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for the virus. According to CA Notify, this new digital tool is completely private, anonymous and secure, and does not collect location data from any device 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 California, San Diego and the University of California, San Francisco.
Starting Thursday, December 10, 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 availability alerts from their phones on Thursday, December 10.
“When combined with other actions like wearing masks and physical distancing, CA Notify can help curb the transmission of COVID-19,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of California’s Health and Human Services Agency. “Every day that is saved in alerting others of a possible exposure, is a day that a possibly infectious person can begin self-quarantine and reduce the spread. This technology is another way for Californians to take proactive steps to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe.”
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. Notify triggering an alert to phones of people who may have been exposed in the previous 14 days.
The state launched a pilot in September for students, staff and faculty at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco and expanded to include five other UC campuses in mid-November. “Our pilot experience starting at UC San Diego and expanding to other UC campuses showed this technology was effective in identifying exposed individuals early for quarantine and testing, and helping keep our communities as safe as possible,” said Christopher Longhurst, MD, chief information officer of UC San Diego Health. “This free and reliable smartphone technology can help all Californians. As we enter a new, and hopefully final, surge in the pandemic, now more than ever is the time to put every possible tool to use to slow the spread of the virus.”