Newswise — The California governor’s office today announced a statewide expansion to make CA Notify available to all Californians starting Thursday, December 10 in partnership with UC San Diego Health. The mobile technology, released by Google and Apple, 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 Christopher Longhurst, MD, chief information officer and professor of biomedical informatics and pediatrics, UC San Diego 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.”
Initially launched at UC San Diego, the CA Notify pilot was subsequently expanded at UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Riverside. UC San Diego experienced an adoption rate of more than 50 percent of on-campus staff and employees in less than a week. More than 50 Covid-19 exposure notifications have already 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 UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. 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.”
“We have seen CA Notify work for our employees and patients,” said Patty Maysent, chief executive officer of UC San Diego Health. “Every effort makes a difference. Mask, wash hands, social distance, and now, enable your phone to help you know if you or a loved one should be tested. UC San Diego Health is deeply proud to contribute to statewide efforts to combat COVID-19.”
Due to its pivotal role in piloting CA Notify, UC San Diego Health is 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.
Nicole May, project director at UC San Diego Health, agreed: “The UC pilot program provided us key lessons on how best to support the use of this technology for all Californians, setting up the statewide launch for future success. The pilot was designed to allow us to rapidly incorporate real user feedback into the way we communicated the use and benefits of the application. With each new iteration of the website and messaging, adoption of the application increased. All of these important learnings are now integrated into the program support of the call center and website.”
“CA Notify empowers you to help contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Marc Sylwestrzak, Information Systems director, Experience and Digital Health at UC San Diego 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?”
Use of the CA Notify exposure notification system is part of UC San Diego’s nationally recognized, evidence-based Return to Learn program, which employs a comprehensive and unique suite of education, monitoring, testing and intervention tools. The program continues to expand — including a recent introduction of weekly self-administered student testing kits and growth of the campus’ wastewater viral monitoring program. The program has helped the campus maintain a positivity rate of less than one-half of one percent since late September when fall classes started.
To learn more about CA Notify, visit: canotify.ca.gov