Published: Nov. 4, 2020

A key tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and get Colorado back to normal might be right in your pocket.

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment launched CO Exposure Notifications on Oct. 25. The new system is a smartphone-based tool that anonymously alerts users who have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Three days after the launch, more than 585,000 Colorado residents had activated the option on their personal devices. If you haven’t already done so, you can turn on the option to receive alerts via your smartphone.

“We are so proud of Coloradans and their swift adoption of this critical technology. Knowing you’ve been near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 allows people to make the most informed decision about what to do next and protect themselves and their families,” said Sarah Tuneberg, Colorado’s testing and containment team lead.

How does the technology work?

State officials explained in an Oct. 29 statement, “by opting in, your device—using Bluetooth—will share anonymous tokens with other users. If another user you’ve been near tests positive for COVID-19 within a 14-day period, your app will notify you. If you test positive, you can easily and anonymously notify others that they may have been exposed.”

Tokens contain no personal information—no phone number, name, location or IP address—and they change every 15 minutes to add an extra layer of anonymity, officials explained.

The state developed CO Exposure Notifications in partnership with Google and Apple.

How does the technology help me?

If you learn about having been exposed to someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19, you can take action. You’ll know you need to self-quarantine and get tested. Thanks to your awareness and actions, you’ll reduce the risks of exposure to your family, friends and your larger community.

You can also get Colorado COVID-19 resources or get CU Boulder COVID-19 information online.