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UC Campuses Take Part In Smartphone Tracing Pilot Program To Limit Spread Of COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Several University of California schools – including UCLA -- will begin taking part next week in a pilot program which uses smart phone technology to assist with COVID-19 contact tracing efforts.

UCLA is one of seven campuses across the state taking part in a pilot program using smart phone technology to help with contact tracing.

coronavirus testing orange county
A 360 Clinic health care worker working with the Orange County Health Care Agency and city of Costa Mesa conducts testing at the drive-through self-administered COVID-19 testing super site at the Orange County Fair & Events Center on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020 in Costa Mesa, CA. California is approaching 1 million cases, although the spread remains slower in the state than in other hot spots across the country. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Starting Monday, students and staff at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Riverside, UC Berkeley and UC Davis will be encouraged to opt into an app that uses Bluetooth to monitor who they come in contact with.

While the app is anonymous, it will notify users if someone they were exposed to 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.

RELATED: Health Officials Warn LA County Could Tighten Restrictions If COVID-19 Case Surge Continues

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

UC San Diego and UC San Francisco already began taking part in the program earlier this fall, according to a news release from UC Santa Barbara. About 20,000 students and staff at those two campuses are estimated to have opted into the program.

On Thursday, California became only the second state in the nation to reach 1 million coronavirus cases after Texas also did so earlier in the week.

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