RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — If you own a smartphone it could be using your information to determine if you’re at risk for coronavirus.
“If everyone used a phone that indicated where they were, and all of the people who had COVID-19 were indicated, you would know whether you had any contact with anyone with COVID-19 over some distance over some period of time,” said UNC epidemiologist Dr. Myron Cohen
Apple and Google recently teamed up to improve contact tracing using exposure notifications.
“It’s another device that’s trying to identify people who might be contagious and create an environment that’s safer in that way,” said Cohen.
“What happens is that you notify the national database registry, where all of this data is kept, that you had COVID-19 or were diagnosed with COVID-19,” said Rob Downs, owner of IT Managed Solutions. “Your doctor would then input his information to verify that is correct.”
iPhone users can turn on exposure notifications by going into their settings, clicking the privacy tab, opening Bluetooth, and there they will find the option to turn COVID-19 exposure logging on or off.
“When they say you’ve been exposed to somebody, it’s been somebody within 14 days,” said Downs. “You don’t know who, you don’t know where, and you don’t know when. You just know that they flagged and they’ve been near them in the past 14 days.”
Google and Apple say they will disable exposure notifications on a regional basis when it’s no longer needed, but Downs says there’s an easier way to protect yourself.
“As long as you start the application, and it doesn’t prompt you to track your location or get your contacts or do something else it’s not supposed to do I think you’ll be ok with it,” said Downs. “I’d also look at reputable providers. I don’t know if the CDC is building one for the US.”
A spokesperson for NCDHHS told CBS 17 that at this time they’re not using any apps using Bluetooth or GPS for contact tracing, but all options are still on the table.