TECHNOLOGY

Utah gets access to COVID-19 exposure notifications

Feb 17, 2021, 3:46 PM | Updated: Feb 18, 2021, 11:02 am
utah exposure notifications...
Screen grab: Google/Apple Exposure Notification System video


 

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah residents may now opt in to receive and share notifications about possible exposure to COVID-19. 

The state announced that starting Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021, the Google/Apple Exposure Notification Express system will be available on Utah smartphones. Users should receive three alerts over the next week that encourage them to turn exposure notifications on. 

“Contact tracing is an important part of how public health responds and stops disease outbreaks. People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are more at risk of getting infected and making others sick,” said Navina Forsythe, director of the Utah Department of Health Center for Health Data and Informatics, in a statement.

“Exposure Notifications is a form of electronic contact tracing that uses encrypted or anonymous tokens exchanged through your phone and the phones of those around you to keep an encrypted log of who you’ve been in contact with. The service doesn’t track the location of the smartphone user and instead relies on anonymized interactions through Bluetooth technology.”

Exposure notifications come to Utah

The exposure notifications work by tracking close proximity between smartphones used by people who come into contact. Smartphones exchange “tokens,” with identifying information anonymized, logging that close interaction for two weeks. 

If someone tests positive for COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health sends their phone a verification code. The person who receives the code can then enter it into the system to alert others who’ve been in close contact with them during that two-week time frame. Those users then receive an alert to tell them to watch for symptoms and get tested. 

According to health officials, the system does not reveal the identity of the person who tested positive, nor does it identify to others the people notified about exposure. 

The technology, rolled out last year, was not available in Utah until now. 

Read more: 


How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Obtain a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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Utah gets access to COVID-19 exposure notifications