L.A. County partners with Citizen to send users anonymous alerts if they come in contact with COVID-19 patients

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Los Angeles County has partnered with Citizen to create a COVID-19 contact tracing mobile app, that sends anonymous notifications if a close contact tests positive, officials announced Wednesday.

The SafePass app uses a phone’s built-in Bluetooth to anonymously track people with whom you’ve come into close proximity, Supervisor Kathryn Barger said during a news briefing. If an individual has an extended contact with someone who later tests positive for COVID-19, they will receive a notification to get tested.

“Contact tracing is a lengthy process that relies on information shared by people who test positive for COVID,” Barger said. “In collecting information, everyone’s identity remains anonymous, and all data is encrypted to ensure privacy and security.”

All location data is anonymized and deleted after 30 days, according to the county.

“The Citizen SafePass app puts the power of public health in the palms of our hands, equipping us with another way to expand our tracing programs,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

The app complements the county’s existing COVID-19 response efforts. L.A. County currently has 2,600 people working as contact tracers, who have already conducted 195,000 interviews with coronavirus patients and 53,000 with contacts of patients.

SafePass allows users to self-report COVID-19 symptoms and receive notifications and alerts directly from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

“Contact tracing relies on residents sharing with us key information to identify close contacts, and today we are adding additional capacity for our program through SafePass,” said Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “This new tool allows everyone to share responsibility for protecting each other.”

How it works:

  1. Download the Citizen mobile app
  2. Opt-in/activate your SafePass
  3. Receive an alert when/if you’ve had contact with somebody who tests positive for COVID-19. You’ll receive information for testing sites near you, and some may get a free at-home test
  4. If you test positive, anyone you’ve been in contact with recently will be notified, without getting any identifying information about you
  5. You can share your health status with others

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