Last month, before Google and Apple announced their joint effort to enable COVID-19 exposure notifications, I wrote about the trouble with using Bluetooth-based solutions for contact tracing. Chief among the issues is getting a meaningful number of people to download any app in the first place, public health officials told me. And now that such apps are being released in the United States, we’re seeing just how big a challenge that is. “As we respond to this unprecedented public health emergency, we invite other states to join us in leveraging smartphone technologies to strengthen existing contact tracing efforts,” North Dakota Gov. Later this year, an update to iOS and Android will allow people to begin participating in the program even if they haven’t yet downloaded an official public health app. But as we’ve discussed here before, the best-designed tech interventions won’t be effective if they’re not supported by contact tracing and isolation of new cases. So let’s check in to see how we’re doing on those fronts.
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