DC COVID-19 contact tracing app launched

The District's exposure notification system, which relies on Bluetooth technology to match anonymous signals to phones that were in close contact when someone test positive for COVID-19, has now launched and is live. D.C. officials are calling it DC CAN.

iPhone users can enable exposure notifications in settings if they have the latest iOS, but Android users would need to download the DC CAN app from the Google Play store.

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The program is optional and only verified positive tests can be logged into the system.

When someone tests positive who uses the app, a contact tracer gives them a code to enter into the system. Any people whose phones had prolonged contact with theirs would get a notification and be told they were possibly exposed to the virus. The alert would direct them to DC Health for next steps.

The apps are built on framework released by Apple and Google last month.

Virginia was the first in the DMV to adopt similar technology with its own app COVIDWISE, but the Commonwealth has struggled to get people to sign up.

The Virginia Department of Health told FOX 5 as of October 18, just 677,599 people have downloaded the app. That is just about 8 percent of the state's population.

READ MORE: Virginia becomes first state to try COVID-19 tracing app

D.C. officials say the app works best if more people use it. They have emphasized it does not track a user's location and only provides anonymous information to others.

"In developing this tool user privacy and data security was a top priority. The exposure notification system does not share location. It is not a GPS tracker. In addition, persons who test positive are not identified by the system to other users or to Apple or Google," said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of DC Health.

At the moment, D.C.'s app does not function with Virginia's.
Maryland has not released details about when it will roll out the capability.