COVID-19 exposure notification system hits phones Sunday

    BRIEF

    (Creative commons via Pixabay)

    Colorado officials plan to launch a COVID-19 exposure notification system on Oct. 25.

    The smartphone-based system, developed by the state in partnership with Google and Apple, will notify people if they’ve potentially been exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

    Coloradans on Sunday are expected to receive a notice on their Android and Apple phones with instructions about how to opt-in.

    “We are currently losing ground nationally and here in Colorado to this deadly virus, but we are just launching a new weapon to defeat it,” Gov. Jared Polis said in a news release about the exposure notification system, which he said “is an important new feature for Coloradans to make smart and informed health decisions for themselves, their loved ones and our small businesses.”

    Sarah Tuneberg, director of Colorado’s Innovation Response Team, joins Gov. Jared Polis on Sept. 8, 2020, during a news briefing on Colorado’s response to COVID-19. (Governor Jared Polis Facebook)

    The exposure notification service is voluntary. When two phones with the feature turned on are in close proximity to each other, they will trade anonymized “tokens” that register the interaction. If someone then tests positive for COVID-19, they can register the test with the notification service, which will then use the tokens to alert others of their potential exposure and provide tips on what they should do next.

    State officials insist the system protects users’ privacy, and they say it will be more effective the more people use it. Sarah Tuneberg, director of Colorado’s Innovation Response Team, said in September at the announcement of the system that it is a “completely anonymized service that contains no personal health information.” It does not track users’ location.

    The system was initially planned to launch around the end of September.

    Find more information about the exposure notification system and how to participate at addyourphone.com.

    Jason Plautz contributed to this report.