SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Beginning Wednesday, Utahns can opt in to be notified if they have possibly been exposed to COVID-19 through the Google/Apple Exposure Notification System.
State health officials said smartphone users will receive three alerts over the next week encouraging them to turn on the system.
“Contact tracing is an important part of how public health responds and stops disease outbreaks. People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are more at risk of getting infected and making others sick,” said Navina Forsythe, director of the Utah Department of Health Center for Health Data and Informatics. “Exposure Notifications is a form of electronic contact tracing that uses encrypted or anonymous tokens exchanged through your phone and the phones of those around you to keep an encrypted log of who you’ve been in contact with. The service doesn’t track the location of the smartphone user and instead relies on anonymized interactions through Bluetooth technology.”
How The Notification System Works
Both Apple and Google said the system does not track a user’s location. Instead, someone who opts into the notifications will send out a random, anonymous Bluetooth ID that changes every 10-20 minutes.
“Other phones will be listening for these beacons and broadcasting theirs as well,” Apple officials said. “When each phone receives another beacon, it will record and securely store that beacon on the device.”
Users’ phones will periodically check their list of close contact IDs from the last 14 days and search for any positive COVID-19 results.
“If there’s a match, you will receive a COVID-19 exposure notification, with further instructions from your public health authority on how to keep you and the people around you safe,” Google officials said.
Users will not know the identities of those who tested positive for the virus or who received a notification about possible exposure.
“The success of Exposure Notification is dependent on how many people opt in to the service,” said Forsythe. “Modeling has produced estimates that if just 15% of a population uses Exposure Notifications, that in combination with manual contact tracing, there can be up to a 15% reduction in COVID-19 infections and 11% fewer deaths. A higher percentage of participation can lead to even greater reductions in disease.”
Apple users running iOS 12.5 or later can enable notifications by going to Settings > Exposure Notifications. Android users can find the UT Exposure Notifications app here.
All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems. Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”