Many Americans will celebrate the 4th of July holiday this weekend, which means there will be plenty of trips and get-togethers. States are starting to open back up, and mask mandates are being lifted thanks to vaccination efforts around the country, meaning people will have more to celebrate this weekend. Where I live in Seattle, Washington, we've recently felt the full force of summer come down upon us, but now that weather relatively back to normal, people will be more inclined to go out.
While many states have hit the 50% mark of fully or partially vaccinated individuals, the U.S. has fallen short of its 70% goal by July 4. The latest data shows that just over 54% of Americans have received at least one shot, while 43% are fully vaccinated. That said, contact tracing apps linked to the Exposure Notification system that Apple and Google rolled out last year may still prove helpful in making sure you have a safe weekend. We want to know if you still have exposure notifications enabled on your phone.
Exposure notifications were developed in tandem by Google and Apple as an easy way to track COVID-19 exposure. We have an faq on Google and Apple's COVID-19 Exposure Notification system. Still, in a nutshell, the system uses random Bluetooth identifiers to alert you if you have been in close contact with anyone that has recently tested positive for COVID-19.
The expectation is that this can prompt users to quickly get tested to ensure they don't potentially expose others. But, of course, it's an opt-in system, and it's up to individuals to enter their test results into the app to work effectively.
According to a study, the system may have averted more than half a million infections in the UK.
Fortunately, it's pretty easy to enable it. If you're using any of the best Android phones, the system is already on your device. You just have to go to your phone Settings > Google > COVID-19 Exposure Notifications.
In the U.S., notifications are dependent on state health authorities, and therefore the system requires that you download the contact tracing app developed by your state. When setting it up, you'll be automatically promoted to search for your region. Unfortunately, not every state or region has enabled the system, so it's hit or miss.
If you've used the system, let us know in the comments what your experience has been. If you choose not to use it, let us know why.