(CBS4) – Contract tracing is considered key on reducing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. To help facilitate those efforts, Colorado launched the CO Exposure Notifications service last month. More than 1 million Coloradans have already signed up for the service. It’s a system CBS4 Medical Editor Dr. Dave Hnida applauds.
“That’s more than any other state has with their individual apps. There’s a difference with the Colorado app … it’s anonymous. It is something that you can download to your phone and it works on Bluetooth technology,” Hnida said.
“The key here is that you download this app and somebody else downloads the app.”
The app then links phones and notifies people whose phone was around the phone of a person who has tested positive.
“On a personal note, just over the course of the last few several days, I have had people who have had this app kick in and give them notification,” Hnida said. “It has been very good to be able to advise those folks what direction they should go in terms of protecting their health.”
“The more people who download this app, the better it is. Once again, it is anonymous, it doesn’t track you, doesn’t track your location. It is a very valuable tool and I’d encourage people to go ahead and download the app.”
HERE’S HOW IT WORKS
When two people meet who’ve both opted into the app and they practice appropriate social distancing and mask wearing, their phones are exchanging anonymous tokens via Bluetooth. Those tokens are stored anonymously on a public health server.
If one of those people start to feel ill and learn they have tested positive for COVID-19 from a doctor’s office, they will get a code/key from their local public health agency to enter into their phone.
(credit: State of Colorado)
The key will then notify anyone who opted in and had contact with the patient.
“All of those tokens then send a message back to the phones that they were generated on and give people a little push notification that says ‘Hey, look, you might have been exposed. Call your local public health agency,'” said Tuneberg.
Android users can download CO Exposure Notifications on the Google Play store.
iPhone users can enable CO Exposure Notifications in their phone settings by finding Settings > Exposure Notifications > United States > Colorado.