LA County unveils mobile COVID contact-tracing effort to speed notifications

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 24: In this photo illustration, the UK governments new test and trace application is displayed on a handheld device, on September 24, 2020 in London, England. The new NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app was available to downl

Hoping to speed the process of coronavirus contact-tracing, Los Angeles County announced a feature today that will allow people who receive a positive COVID-19 test to quickly -- and anonymously -- use their cell phones to notify others they may have exposed.

The county already partners with Healthvana, a company that uses text
messages or emails to deliver result notifications to people who are tested for
COVID-19 at county-operated sites.

That notification will now include an extra link the patient can click and enter contact information for anyone the person believes may have been exposed to the virus. Those contacts then receive a notification from Healthvana alerting them that they may have been exposed, and also providing information about testing locations and other resources.

County officials said the feature will speed the process of contact tracing, meaning people who may have been exposed to the virus can quarantine
and get tested more rapidly.

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

"This is a prime example of how to harness technology to help Angelenos immediately inform their contacts and help slow the spread of infection, especially as we see the rate of infections and hospitalizations rising in communities across the county,'' said Dr. Clemens Hong, director of Whole Person Care at the county Department of Health Services. "By rapidly
alerting people who may have been exposed to the virus so they can use that
information to isolate themselves and protect their loved ones, we can make big
strides in slowing progression and reducing the terrible impacts of COVID

According to the county, 50% of people who receive their test results on their cell phones from Healthvana view the results in 10 minutes or less, while 75% view them in one hour or less and 90% view them in four hours or less.

RELATED: LA County partners with Citizen to create COVID-19 contact tracing mobile app

The county and city of Los Angeles previously announced a partnership with the Citizen mobile-phone crime-tracking app, creating an opt-in feature that uses GPS technology to automatically notify users who were in locations where a COVID exposure may have occurred. Some critics, however, raised privacy
concerns about the program, which tracks participants' locations to determine
if they were potentially exposed.

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