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New COVID-19 Contact Tracing Notification System Launches In Calif.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A new smartphone system which will notify California residents when they may have been exposed to the coronavirus went live Thursday statewide.

California coronavirus
People are seen at a COVID-19 testing center at the San Fernando regional park in Los Angeles County, the United States, Dec. 8, 2020. This is the only walk-in COVID-19 testing center in Los Angeles for those who can not drive or do not own a car. The United States has set new world records for COVID-19 core metrics including hospitalizations, seven-day average case and death increases, as the total number of confirmed cases topped 15 million on Tuesday. California issued a new stay-at-home order which goes into effect within 48 hours in regions with less than 15 percent intensive care availability. Tens of millions of people in the state's southern and San Joaquin Valley regions are now under the new stay-at-home order. (Photo by Xinhua via Getty) (Xinhua/Xinhua via Getty Images)

CA Notify is an app which uses Bluetooth technology which Apple and Google smart phone users can voluntarily opt into.

While the app is anonymous, it will notify users if someone they were exposed to -- who also uses the app -- contracts coronavirus, so they can get tested. If they themselves become infected, it will in turn alert people who they have been around to also get tested.

The statewide launch of the app, which was announced Monday by Gov. Gavin Newsom, is the extension of a pilot program which began in the fall among about 20,000 students and staff at UC San Francisco and UC San Diego.

The program was then expanded to several more University of California system schools in November, including UCLA, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis and UC Berkeley.

The governor emphasized that the app will never share a user's identity with others. He said the information is not collected or made public.

It uses digital contact tracing technology that was developed by both Google and Apple known as the Google/Apple Exposure Notification (GAEN) system.

To activate it on an iPhone, users must go into their settings, scroll down to exposure notifications, turn on exposure notifications and select "United States>California."

Android users can download it through Google Play.

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