What you need to know
- Utah has enabled COVID-19 Exposure Notifications.
- Users will be alerted if they come into close contact with someone who tests positive.
The state of Utah has enabled the Exposure Notification system offered by Apple and Google in an attempt to try and help slow the spread of COVID-19. Starting today, Utahns can opt in to receive notifications when someone they have come into contact with tests positive for COVID-19.
Multiple states and other countries have already implemented the notification system and I've received a few of them myself here in the UK. Both Google and Apple have worked to ensure users' privacy is maintained and users can opt out of the system whenever they want.
When two people have activated Exposure Notifications on their smartphones and come in close proximity to one another, they exchange anonymized "tokens" that log that close interaction for 14 days. A verification code is sent to individuals who test positive for COVID-19 by the Utah Department of Health. That code can then be entered into the Exposure Notification system by the individual who tests positive to alert others who came into close contact with them that they were possibly exposed to COVID-19. Anyone who was possibly exposed will be asked to watch for symptoms of COVID-19 and get tested. Users of Exposure Notification never know the identities of the person who tested positive or who was notified about a possible exposure.
Exposure Notifications have been available as part of iOs since the arrival of iOS 13.5 in May 2020 but some states have been quicker to bring it online than others. Apple and Google said last year that they hoped the system would help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially considering it's possible for carriers to be asymptomatic.
One of the most effective techniques that public health officials have used during outbreaks is called contact tracing. Through this approach, public health officials contact, test, treat and advise people who may have been exposed to an affected person. One new element of contact tracing is Exposure Notifications: using privacy-preserving digital technology to tell someone they may have been exposed to the virus. Exposure Notification has the specific goal of rapid notification, which is especially important to slowing the spread of the disease with a virus that can be spread asymptomatically.
You can find all of the information about the new Utah implementation of the exposure notifications can be found on the state's government website.