By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County announced a feature Wednesday 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, which uses text messages and email to notify people who have been tested for COVID-19 at county-operated sites.

Now, those notifications will include a link that allows the patient to enter contact information for anyone they may have exposed to the virus.

Those people will then be alerted that they may have been exposed and be given information about testing locations and other resources.

County officials said the feature will speed the process of contact tracing, helping people who may have been exposed know to quarantine and get tested.

“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,” Hong said.

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 Citizen, the mobile 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.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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