A model of the deadly coronavirus. Courtesy County News Center

UC San Diego Health announced Monday it is participating in a statewide expansion of the mobile COVID-19 notification system currently in use at UCSD.

The mobile technology confidentially notifies individuals who opt in if they have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. The new tool is intended to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

“Imagine your phone being able to tell you that you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 — or better yet — that you can anonymously alert others, even strangers, of a potential exposure so they can get tested,” said Dr. Christopher Longhurst, chief information officer and professor of biomedical informatics and pediatrics at UCSD Health.

“This free and reliable smartphone technology can help all Californians. As we enter a new, and hopefully final, surge in the pandemic, now more than ever is the time to put every possible tool to use to slow the spread of the virus,” Longhurst said.

Initially launched at UCSD this fall, the CA Notify pilot was subsequently expanded at other UCs throughout the state. UCSD saw a 50% participation rates of on-campus staff and employees in less than a week. More than 50 Covid-19 exposure notifications have been anonymously triggered to help protect the campus community.

“CA Notify mobile technology has been an integral part of our nationally acclaimed Return to Learn program,” said UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla. “During our pilot, more than 15,000 users activated the technology and would have been alerted if they had been in close proximity to individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. The expanded activation of this technology will enhance its effectiveness.”

Due to its role in piloting CA Notify, UCSD Health has been contracted to provide infrastructure, education and support for the exposure notification system. Support includes a call center and public website. The call center will answer questions about the mobile tools and how they work on Google and Apple devices. Call center representatives and the website provide support in multiple languages, including Spanish and Chinese.

“CA Notify empowers you to help contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Marc Sylwestrzak, information systems director at UCSD Health. “You can do your part just by turning it on. It’s free, easy to do, as effortless as carrying your phone with you. When you realize that turning on the application can protect or save a life, why not do it?”

–City News Service

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