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Apple & Google working together to locate individuals with COVID-19

Apple and Google logo

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Apple and Google are expanding their coronavirus warning software so that state health agencies can participate without having to create other applications to locate individuals who have COVID-19.

Apple has updated their products to allow individuals to know if they have been in close contact with anyone with the virus. The testing has been off to a slow start but using Bluetooth will allow people to tell whether someone has spent significant time near one another. Public health agencies around the world wanted to build apps that would help track the spread of the virus. However, due to citing privacy concerns, potential battery drainage , and limitations thetwo tech giants placed on mobile apps  experiments failed.  Apple and Google declined to give public health agencies special access for the purpose of contact tracing; if a participant in the exposure notification program tests positive for the coronavirus, that person’s close contacts may get a notification. Apple and Google launched their own software that is built into the operating system where their software does not provide a lot of information to public health agencies.

“It’s still not probably serving all the interests that public health would want, but it’s better than nothing,” says Jeffrey Kahn. It will give a sense of relief if they can distance themselves from someone who has had or has the virus while they go to work or run errands. 

During a Tuesday conference call, the companies explained that they want states to exclusively utilize their system instead of creating customized apps. Residents who live in the state that participates in the software will get pop-up notifications to opt into the program to share their data that will allow others to see their information related to Coronavirus. Now that the process is seemingly easier instead of downloading a new app, if a person tests positive for the virus, participating public health agencies provide the person with a unique number. When entered into the system, other participants who’ve come into contact with that person may be notified.

With the “exposure notifications express” public health agencies will not have the ability to receive personal information, but it will allow agencies to track the virus better.