Although these apps cannot keep you safe – they only tell you after you are in danger – they may prevent others from getting infected if you take precautions, such as As self-isolation, after receipt Attention.
Millions of people sign up, although these apps are not yet available in many states. Health officials believe alerts may be especially helpful in situations where an infected person has been in contact with strangers – for example. On the bus or train line or exit – Who do not know that they were otherwise exposed.

IPhones and Android devices have constantly changing anonymous codes that ping nearby phones via Bluetooth – a process that begins once a user chooses to receive notifications.

For exposure notifications to be effective, Android users must turn on Bluetooth and download the Covid-19 notification app for their condition. On iPhones, the system is already integrated into the settings, although users should go to exposure notifications and make sure that availability alerts are turned on.

When someone is using the feature positive for Coronavirus, they obtain or obtain a PIN from a health official to access their phone. Any other phone that has been close in the past two weeks – usually within six feet or less, for at least 15 minutes – will receive an alert informing the user to quarantine and notifying the healthcare provider.

The apps assess your risk on the strength of the Bluetooth signal (how close you are to the other person) and how long you have been connected to them.

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Where can you get it

At least 15 countries They participate in the Covid-19 exposure notification system.

Some states reported a flurry of signups within weeks of the program’s launch. Maryland launched its notification system on November 10, and more than 1 million people have already registered, said Charlie Geschler, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health. He described the app as “a complement to the traditional contact tracing and another toolbox tool” to combat Coronavirus infection.

Colorado, where coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have soared in recent weeks, More than a million people have also seen subscribe to the alerts Since the system was launched on 25 October. The state is one of several large-scale campaigns to educate residents about serving exposure notice.
Some states have launched apps to alert residents when they are exposed to the Coronavirus.

“We are at a pivotal moment in this epidemic, and subscribing to this service helps keep our families and communities safe, and helps our economy function,” Colorado Governor Jared Polis said in a statement.

Other countries, including California And the OregonThey launched beta programs, but their notification systems aren’t yet available to everyone.

Questions about privacy

Is information from apps anonymous? Experts say it is.

Gischlar said the apps do not collect data about users or their locations, and there is no way to link Covid diagnostics and alerts to names and identities on phones.

Unlike the previous widely promoted notification system At the start of an epidemic that uses the Global Positioning System (GPS), which tracks a person’s location, the Bluetooth system helps maintain privacy and anonymity among users.
“The fact that they use Bluetooth to bounce signals off other phones near you, instead of tracking your location, makes them less invasive, and people shouldn’t have to worry about tracking their location – it’s not,” he said. Steve Waters, Founder Country Health Corps, Which provides guidance on tracing contacts of Covid-19.
Vehicles line up this month at the Coronavirus Test Center in Miami Gardens, Florida.

“The process is completely anonymous and does not collect any personally identifiable information, and addresses the privacy concerns of the earlier contact tracing apps that are more invasive.”

Previous versions that raised privacy concerns were created by third-party developers. Gischlar said the coronavirus alert technology is provided by Apple and Google, and users can opt out of using it at any time.

Alerts can reduce Covid-19 infection

The more people subscribe to the alerts, the more effective they will be. Currently, apps are only used by a small percentage of the nearly 100 million Americans who live in 15 states.

But health officials say these lower numbers make a difference. In Colorado, Officials cited studies showing up to 15% of using exposure notification techniques It leads to a significant reduction in infections and deaths from the Coronavirus. The state says their app usage is now at 17%.
Some states are grouped together to enable push notifications across state lines, according to Tony Anscombe, world expert For Internet Security Company ESET. This is especially important in places close to a state border where people work in one state and live in another state.
The alarm system only works on phones less than five years old.

For example, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware have formed a regional alliance that uses a similar system that allows its applications to run across state boundaries, Anscombe says.

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Countries face some challenges in their outreach

The alert system is designed to complement traditional contact tracing, not work alone.

But technology brings with it its own set of challenges. For starters, the notification system only works on Google and Apple phones that are under five years old, says Anscombe. Not everyone has a newer smartphone, and only a small percentage of those use the notification system.

The software on iPhone and Android devices detects when people - or rather their phones - are close to each other.

In addition, not all states use the notification system. Many state health departments are already overwhelmed by a resurgence of the virus, Anscombe said, and some may not have the resources to develop and maintain the app.

Waters said the previous GPS-based notification system caused outrage among privacy advocates and raised doubts about contact tracing in general.

Waters said: “Countries need additional funding, which is currently stuck in Congress, to help combat disinformation and increase the adoption of this critical tool in the battle against Covid.”

Coronavirus pandemic It also became a political issue, With some Americans they take it less seriously than others. For this reason, Waters said, some are also reluctant to use Covid exposure apps.