Health Officials encouraging use of GuideSafe app as Covid-19 cases rise

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 11:21 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 7, 2021 at 6:59 AM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The state health department is encouraging you to download the GuideSafe Exposure Notification App. The app anonymously lets you know if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Guidesafe app creators said they have seen an increase in downloads over the last few weeks and with the Delta variant spreading easier than previous strains. They said the more people on the app right now, the better.

“You really want to know as soon as possible when you have been exposed to somebody,” App developer and Director of Health Informatics at UAB, Dr. Sue Feldman said.

285,000 people across the state have downloaded the Guidesafe exposure notification app.

“If you are within six feet of someone who also has the app downloaded on their phone, then the two phones exchange anonymous encrypted information,” Feldman said. “Later, if one of those people test positive for COVID, you’ll get an exposure notification on your phone.”

Feldman said unlike case contact tracing, it’s all anonymous. You don’t have to share names or phone numbers of people you’ve been in contact with. The app does all the work, even when it’s not open on your phone.

“It runs in the background,” she said. “No one even knows it is running. You don’t know who is being notified. You don’t know who you are being notified from.”

Feldman said you’ll get your exposure notification about four days earlier than you would hear from a contact tracer. She said this can help prevent you from exposing others.

“As much as we can do to shorten that notification curve, in other words get you notified sooner, the better off everyone is going to be.”

Feldman said the higher the risk of COVID, the more beneficial the app can be, but she said for it to be as effective as possible, more people need to download it.

“The GuideSafe app is a great tool to have in your arsenal,” she said.

Dr. Feldman said they do not know how many people so far have been notified from the app of an exposure, because it is anonymous, but she says they have had 1,318 positive verifications sent out.

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