Most Americans don’t get exposure alerts on their phones


Americans in many states will no longer receive notifications about Covid-19 on their smartphones after the end of the US public health emergency.

As of 2020, nearly 30 states have used the developed Bluetooth system Apple And Google Tracking the spread of Covid and sending alerts to any smartphone user who has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories hosted the national server on which the system operates.

The organization said Thursday that “the majority of states” have stopped using the disease reporting system since the Biden administration ended the public health emergency on May 11.

APHL added that it no longer supports key components of the system it was designed to help with millions of Americans are monitoring their exposure and deciding to isolate and test for the virus.

In a joint statement, Apple And Google did not consider the decisions of states to stop using the system.

The tech giants told CNBC that the system has helped health departments fight Covid, citing the fact that it tracks infections without collecting their location or identity and preserves privacy. users.

California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado have said they will no longer use the system after the US state of emergency declaration ends.

“These systems will be closed the day the state’s COVID-19 emergency ends,” the California Department of Public Health said Thursday.

Several states have used this system to create apps that smartphone users can download, such as CA Notify and WA Notify.

States have also provided notification of cases through built-in functionality in Apple and Google operating systems.

For this method, state health departments had to send Apple and Google a configuration file with contact information and a Covid advisory. The two tech companies use the file to install a feature on phones that allows users to receive notifications.

On Friday, some Apple users who opted in to the feature received warnings that their iPhones “will no longer detect nearby devices and you will no longer be notified of any infections.”

In a post on Twitter, an Apple user shared that their alert read, “The health authority has turned off notification of infected people.”

But not all Apple and Google users in states that shut down the virus notification system Friday afternoon received the same alerts.

Neither Apple nor Google explained why some users received the alerts while others did not.

There is no accurate count of how many Americans have activated the threat notification feature on their phones or downloaded apps in the past three years.

Virginia estimates that more than 3 million users have downloaded the state app or used the notification feature since the tools launched in 2020.

A “majority” of New Mexico residents said they have enabled notifications on their phones. According to the state, more than 1.5 million warnings have been sent to users who may have been exposed to Covid.

Washington said the state has generated more than 2.5 million infection alerts through its app or notification feature.

Washington researchers found that public notification tools saved between 30 and 120 lives and prevented nearly 6,000 cases of Covid in the first four months after they were launched in November 2020.

Despite these benefits, some Americans remain skeptical of the means of reporting contact with Covid.

In a 2021 report by the US Government Accountability Office, the public expressed concerns about privacy. The report says the public may not trust local governments and tech companies to handle sensitive health information.

The decision by states to stop reporting Covid-19 cases is part of a broader shift in how the country is responding to the pandemic.

In the past year, health services have eased Covid restrictions, such as wearing masks and social distancing, as more Americans have been vaccinated against the virus.

That led to the end of the public health emergency, which removed much of the funding and flexibility that helped expand Covid testing, insurance coverage and access to care during the pandemic.

More than 1,000 Americans die from Covid every week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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