Phones can add extra layer of Covid defense over holidays

Hand holding mobile cell phone smartphone

iPhone users have the exposure notification system installed while Android users must download an app.

December 20, 2021

In order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 over the winter holidays, the CSU Chancellor’s Office is recommending — in addition to vaccinations, masking, and handwashing — a new free smartphone notification system for campus communities.

CA Notify is an exposure notification that alerts users by smartphone if they have been exposed to COVID-19 by another CA Notify user.

CSUMB has in place an exposure tracing team that conducts manual notifications; CA Notify would supplement that effort, adding an extra layer of COVID-19 protection to communities and families.

The CA Notify website describes how it works: “If another CA Notify user who has been near you (for a certain amount of time or longer) tests positive for COVID-19, and then uses the system to notify others, you will get an alert telling you that you were exposed.”

It uses Bluetooth technology to estimate how close one phone was to another CA Notify user’s phone. But it can’t tell who exposed who or where a person was exposed, and doesn’t gather a user’s name, contact info, or specific location.

The CA Notify website states that research shows that timely exposure notifications prevent spread, and that more notifications nets more benefit. It further states that 13 million Californians are already signed up for CA Notify.

The app was developed by Google and Apple and made possible by the California Department of Public Health.

When the app was launched a year ago, Governor Gavin Newsom announced, “The process is private, anonymous and secure, and is one of the many tools in the state's data-driven approach to help reduce the spread."

iPhone users can enable CA Notify by going into Settings, scrolling down to Exposure Notification, and turning it on. Android users can download CA Notify on the Google Play Store.

More information is on the CA Notify website.