What you should know about COVID-19 exposure notification apps

There will not be a national app for contact tracing. There are many options available now, and it is up to each state and individual to decide which tools best fit their needs. It is up to you to decide if you download an exposure notification app for COVID-19.

Recently several friends on social media posted about settings on their phones for COVID-19 exposure notification. I checked and found it on my phone also. Early in the pandemic I read that this software was being developed for possible use in contact tracing but did not know it was now a reality.

I mentioned it to my computer guru husband Raymond who writes a tech blog Tech Savy Life and he researched and wrote an in-depth post about it. So I’m tapping into his knowledge to share with you.

What is contact tracing?

According to the CDC, contact tracing “helps protect you, your family, and your community” by

  • Letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested.
  • Asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact.

Manual contact tracing done by humans is labor intensive and sometimes inefficient, requiring time on the phone trying to reach people, physically tracking them down, and then depending on their memory of where and with whom they have been. Using technology to do this speeds the process and improves accuracy, making it far more valuable and helpful.

Using case management tools

Local health departments may use digital case management tools to help make the contact tracing process more efficient. If you choose to provide information through one of these tools, your information is secure and stored with the health department. These tools help health departments quickly receive and analyze information about COVID-19.

Case management tools are under the same laws and regulations for all sensitive health information use (e.g. HIPPA). You must provide consent for the health department to collect information using a case management tool. Just like traditional contact tracing, digital tools will not collect information regarding money, Social Security numbers, bank account information, salary information, or credit card numbers.

Using exposure notification tools
a phone screen shot of Settings

Exposure notification tools may be an app that you can download on your personal cell phone. If you choose to download an exposure notification app for COVID-19, your information is secure.

Exposure notification apps are developed in collaboration with or endorsed by health departments. These apps undergo rigorous testing to determine their trustworthiness, security, and ability to protect people’s privacy. Until you give consent to share information with your local health department, any information you have entered into the app is stored only on your personal phone and is not sent to the health department or any other third party. The app and your information can be deleted any time.

Exposure notification on the iPhone 11 iOS 13.7

By clicking Continue, I went to a screen where I entered my country, the United States, and then my state, Oklahoma, where exposure notifications are not currently available.

Privacy and civil liberty issues

Again, according to the CDC,

There will not be a national app for contact tracing. There are many options available now, and it is up to each state and individual to decide which tools best fit their needs. It is up to you to decide if you download an exposure notification app for COVID-19.

Tech Savy Life

Raymond’s article was written before the iOS update, but I recommend you read it for a more detailed explanation of how contact tracing works. And check out some of his other posts while you’re there.

Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you.

Contact tracing is coming on your smartphone

man looking at a phone screen

exploring the HEART of health with technology

Even though computers and smart phones aren’t so “smart” sometimes (or maybe it’s just me) I’m glad we can harness the power of technology to help us explore and share the HEART of health. You may enjoy this post about how technology has changed the way we document healthcare for better and for worse.

Dr Aletha

an update

Several states have now adopted use of contact tracing apps, but usefulness has been hampered by reluctance to use them.This article from Kaiser Health News explains why

People Proving to Be Weakest Link for Apps Tracking COVID Exposure

Winning on the water-a book review of Boys in the Boat

The 2020 Olympics were postponed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the 1936 games in Berlin Germany are historic for a different reason. And it involves the often ignored sport of rowing.

Why do we like books and movies about sports? Have you noticed how many sports stories there are? (This post offers multiple affiliate links to sites that offer a commission to this blog for purchases made there.)

Some sport stories are about fictional characters and situations-

  • Rocky
  • Field of Dreams
  • Bleachers
  • Friday Night Lights
  • Million Dollar Baby

But the ones that most catch our attention and our hearts are those about real people.

  • Seabiscuit
  • Chariots of Fire
  • A League of Their Own
  • The Blind Side

Rowing- athletes in a boat

Most of us know something about the big sports, like football, basketball, and baseball. We probably know less about horse racing, boxing, track, and ice skating. But rowing , rarely if ever on the sports pages or television broadcasts, isn’t one most of us know at all.

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown.

In Boys in the Boat the United States Olympic Rowing team of 1936 beat incredible odds to win the gold medal. But the meat of the book reviews in detail how each man came to be in that boat, especially Joe Rantz. Based on interviews of him by the author, we learn Joe’s painful early family life, struggle to pay for college, and the grueling physical challenges of preparing for competitive rowing.

At that time the sport of rowing was dominated by the sons of wealthy families and the Ivy League colleges they attended. By contrast, the University of Washington athletes who made up the 1936 Olympic rowing team came from working class families and had to work their way through college. That they did so in the midst of a depression makes their achievement even more remarkable.

You may be surprised to learn how much the sport of rowing physically and mentally challenges the human body. To be competitive, the crew’s eight rowers must work synchronously as the leader, known as the coxswain, calls out commands to set a pace that is fast enough to win but sustainable for the length of the race.

Nazi Germany’s Olympic games

Interspersed in the boys’ stories, Daniel Brown outlines the events unfolding in Germany, as Hitler and the Nazi party rose to power. As part of their plan to dominate Europe and eventually the world, they plan to make the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin a showcase of German wealth, knowledge, power, and athletic ability. Specifically, Hitler hoped the German rowing team would beat England and Italy, the teams historically likely to win. The story of his reaction to an American team that not only challenged but upset the status quo completes a book worth reading.

My reaction to Boys in the Boat

From reading this book, I gained an appreciation for this sport that I previously knew nothing about. My husband and I listened to the audio book while on a 12 hour car trip and it kept us interested and entertained. We were inspired by a story where perseverance, courage, loyalty, and commitment were celebrated and rewarded.

This story proves history lessons aren’t dull, boring, or outdated, but can offer us information and inspiration to help us explore the HEART of health

the BOYS OF ’36 documentary

A PBS video documentary The BOYS OF ’36 is available on Amazon Video, free with Prime or available to rent.

Your comments welcome

If you read the book or watch the video, please contact me with your thoughts. I might use your comments in an update.

Dr. Aletha
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