Google and Apple announce new exposure notification system to trace COVID-19 cases

Updated: Sep. 14, 2020 at 7:28 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - You may have recently received a notification on your smartphone or other mobile device about an update that lets you opt-in to a COVID-19 exposure notification system without having to download an app.

But what exactly is this software update, and should you even bother to download it?

This latest update is actually another way to help governments and health agencies reduce the spread of COVID-19 through contact tracing.

But if you live in the state of Alabama, this new collaboration with Apple and Google will not work.

Technology giants Apple and Google have joined forces, releasing what they’re calling Exposure Notification Express.

But it only works if a state chooses to use it, and so far, it’s been a hard pass for Alabama.

“If the state of Alabama adopted the Exposure Notification Express, it would actually put more work on the Alabama Department of Public Health,” said Director of Graduate Programs and Health Informatics at UAB, Dr. Sue Feldman.

That’s because the new program would require a person to call ADPH to get a validation code to report a positive COVID-19 case, and Dr. Feldman said the department is already slammed with other COVID-related issues.

“They should worry less about Exposure Notification Express and whether the state of Alabama is going to join in with that and when they join in with that because we already have our own exposure notification app, and that’s what people should be downloading,” Dr. Feldman explained.

She is referring to GuideSafe, a contact tracing app developed in collaboration with ADHP.

It turns your phone number into a one-way encrypted code, which waits on a server for a match.

You’ll be notified only when someone near you tests positive for the virus.

“The worst thing is not knowing because then when you don’t know then you’re out exposing other people and that’s what gets our numbers up and that’s what makes it so the state has to pull back and start closing things,” Dr. Feldman said.

Now, the question remains: should I update my software? And the answer to that is yes because this release also includes other bug fixes to your phone.

And if you’re still uncomfortable, you can turn off Exposure Notification Express in your settings.

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