December 07, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health
California Governor Gavin Newsom today announced the launch of CA Notify, the state’s new COVID-19 exposure notification system.
The new app-based system was developed jointly by Google and Apple, and has been in use as a pilot project with the University of California (UC) since September. CA Notify will be available to all Californians beginning Thursday, December 10, 2020.
The CA Notify app is a voluntary opt-in system that alerts users to potential exposure without storing or transmitting any data related to their identity or location. 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.
The state launched the pilot in September for students, staff and faculty at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco and expanded to include five other UC campuses in mid-November. Given the privacy-first focus of CA Notify, it is not known how many students, faculty, staff and patients have enabled the app notifications, but UC estimates more than 250,000 people are utilizing this technology as part of the pilot.
In the eight weeks since the launch of the pilot project, 60 positive test verification codes have been issued. CA Notify has helped identify exposed individuals early, allowing them to quickly quarantine and reduce the transmission of the virus. The performance and privacy of CA Notify has been successfully evaluated through the pilot project and similar programs have been launched in other states.
When individuals voluntarily activate CA Notify, the tool uses Bluetooth technology to exchange random codes between phones without revealing the user’s identity or location. If a CA Notify user tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a text from the California Department of Public Health at (855) 976-8462 with a code verification code to plug into the app, if they choose. Entering the code will trigger alert to phones of people who may have been exposed in the previous 14 days. Any other CA Notify users who have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more of the COVID-19 positive individual will get an anonymous notification of possible exposure.
CA Notify is an added layer of protection for California communities. CA Notify will accelerate how quickly people get notified of a possible COVID-19 exposure, giving people the information they need to make responsible decisions around quarantine and testing.
“When combined with other actions like wearing masks and physical distancing, CA Notify can help curb the transmission of COVID-19,” said Mark Ghaly, M.D., California Health and Human Services Secretary. “Every day that is saved in alerting others of a possible exposure, is a day that a possibly infectious person can begin self-quarantine and reduce the spread. This technology is another way for Californians to take proactive steps to keep themselves, their loved ones and their communities safe.”
The California Medical Association encourages all Californians to opt in to the exposure notification system to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and saves lives.
Learn more at canotify.ca.gov.