"Here’s a phone alert you wouldn’t want to miss: “You have likely been exposed.”
The coronavirus surge is upon us, and your phone might be able to help. About 100 million Americans now have the ability to get pop-up notifications from local health authorities when they’ve personally spent time near someone who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
But exposure notifications only work if you and the people around you turn them on. Yes, you!
There’s early evidence this anonymous smartphone technology works — but so far isn’t helping very many Americans. In August, I wrote about the first of these state-sponsored alerts, Virginia’s Covidwise app. In the three months since, only 488 people have used the state’s app to send alerts about a positive diagnosis to others.
The alerts use software built by Apple and Google into iPhones and Android devices to detect when people (or the phones they’re holding) get into close contact with each other. That might sound like a privacy invasion, but they figured out how to track encounters between people in a way that’s anonymous — and doesn’t store your location — by using the Bluetooth wireless technology in phones."
"Do I need to download a separate coronavirus app?
That depends on where you live and what kind of phone you have.
Most states have made their own exposure notification apps that walk you through the steps of turning on alerts and — should it be needed — entering in your own positive test result.
In some other places, including Colorado, Maryland and D.C., there’s no app required for iPhones. Instead, you might get a push alert on your phone suggesting you turn on alerts, which is known as the “notifications express” system. If you missed that, you’ll need to go to Settings, then scroll down to Exposure Notifications and turn them on. (This won’t work for all states.)"