This week, Californians will have a new way of finding out if they were exposed to COVID-19 amid another surge of cases and hospitalizations.
CA Notify, which was rolled out to UC Davis and six other UC campuses in mid-November, will be rolled out on December 10th to the entire state.
Once you activate CA Notify, it does all the work. All you do is keep your Bluetooth on. You will only receive alerts if you were in close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19. Your privacy is protected as your identity is not known and your location is not tracked.
Imagine that two people have Exposure Notifications turned on. If they come within six feet of each other for 15 minutes or more within a day, their phones will exchange keys (randomly generated, anonymous numbers) that log that close interaction.
If one person later tests positive for COVID-19 and agrees to share that information with CA Notify, then the other will receive an alert that they have been exposed. That notification will include instructions on who to contact and what to do next.
The app is seen as an added layer of protection for individuals and their communities. Of course, it augments prevention measures as wearing a mask, physically distancing, and washing hands.
Californians can add their phones today in anticipation of the rollout out on Thursday. Below is guidance on how to do that:
- iPhone: Available on iOS 13.7 or later. Pilot users must update their iOS to 14.2 or later. iPhone user can enable CA Notify in device settings by going to setting, scrolling down to “Exposure Notifications,” turning on “Exposure Notifications,” and selecting “United States > California.”
- Android: Available in the Google Play Store on December 10th.
For those with concerns about privacy, according to CA Notify site, the app will not collect or exchange any personal information and does not track one’s location. It only logs close interactions with others with anonymous keys being exchanged using Bluetooth that are not linked to your identify or location.
The news of the app rollout comes as California struggles with a surge in COVID-19 cases, putting strain on hospitals across the state. Over the weekend, more than 30,000 new cases were recorded, the most ever in a single day. The 14-day positivity rate for California is now 8.4%, up 3.4% from a month ago.
Last week, the Governor issued a regional stay-at-home order for regions throughout the state whose intensive care unit (ICU) bed occupancy rate falls below 15%. Presently, Southern California and San Joaquin Valley regions have implemented the order for an initial three-week period. Five counties in the San Francisco Area voluntary joined the order as a preemptive measure. Northern California was at 26.5% and the Greater Sacramento Region at 18.2% as of December 6th.