LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- The COVID Trace app will soon alert users to possible exposure quicker than ever, according to the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
Through a partnership with Apple and Google, the contact tracing app, which launched in August, is getting an upgrade. Beginning Dec. 10, the existing app will have increased alert capabilities by way of a new system called Exposure Notification Express (ENX).
"Nevada is the first jurisdiction to launch both ENX and have an application using the technology," according to a release sent Wednesday.
Users for both iOS and Android can download the app in respective app stores. Through Bluetooth-based technology, the fully opt-in system is designed to inform Nevadans if they have been exposed to a COVID-19-positive person. Both COVID Trace and ENX work together to provide users with the most updated information concerning the virus.
“We have worked hard to develop innovative approaches to combat the virus that causes COVID-19. These tools are an additional piece of our response aimed at keeping Nevadans safe and healthy through this pandemic,” Deputy Administrator for the Division of Public and Behavioral Health Julia Peek said Wednesday. "The addition of Exposure Notification Express opens this functionality up to even more Nevadans. The process continues to be completely anonymous, private and secure."
Since August, the COVID Trace app has had more than 130,000 downloads. Both programs are free for public use.
"We've had 65 cases that had the app on their phone at the time of their diagnosis, and we had 44 related exposure notifications sent those results in those cases," Peek said.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
iPhone users will be able to enable the ENX function under settings and begin receiving notifications the same day.
"Devices using iOS 13.7 and later can enable the capability to inform people of potential exposure to COVID-19," the division said in a release.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Bluetooth-enabled technology utilizes an "exchange" of random codes between devices to inform its alerts. Users of the ENX or COVID Trace systems who test positive for coronavirus will receive verification codes from a disease investigator. From there, the user can choose to input the code into the app.
"Any other users who have been within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more of the COVID-19 positive individual will get an anonymous notification of possible exposure," according to the division.
The upgrade in communication is designed to expedite the notification system, allowing users to make better informed decisions during the pandemic.
"When combined with other actions like wearing masks and physical distancing, COVID Trace and ENX can help prevent the transmission of COVID-19,” Nevada Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ihsan Azzam said in a statement. "The sooner people know they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, the sooner they can take action to prevent the further spread of the virus. These tools are just another way Nevadans can take ownership of their role in keeping loved ones and community safe."