County Unveils Mobile COVID Contact-Tracing Effort To Speed Notifications


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - 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.

“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 illness.''

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.

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.

Photo: Getty Images

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