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On Tuesday my phone beeped at me with an alert. (Fortunately) it was one I hadn’t seen before. The warning – “You may have been exposed”, came from the CO Exposure Notification app, which I had voluntarily downloaded onto my phone when it was released earlier this year. The Exposure Notification that I received warned me that, on the prior Monday, someone I was near has tested positive for COVID-19.

The app also directed me to the link with information on Colorado’s quarantine guidance. The guidance was “If a full two weeks has passed since you completed a vaccine series you do not need to quarantine if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19. The exception is if you live in a congregate setting (such as a correctional facility or homeless shelter). In that case, you should still quarantine and get tested after exposure even after you are fully vaccinated. This is because residents of congregate settings may face high turnover, a higher risk of transmission, and challenges in maintaining recommended physical distancing,”

I have been vaccinated and don’t live in a congregate setting, but I do travel on airlines for my business, so I decided to check on the CDC guidance as to whether a vaccinated person can be asymptomatic and still spread the virus.

The CDC states that “A growing body of evidence indicates that people fully vaccinated with an mRNA vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) are less likely than unvaccinated persons to acquire SARS-CoV-2 or to transmit it to others. However, the risk for SARS-CoV-2 breakthrough infection in fully vaccinated people cannot be completely eliminated as long as there is continued community transmission of the virus.”

Since I live with the philosophy “better safe than sorry.” I looked up where COVID testing was being performed, called my provider who sent in approval for a test, and the next morning drove up to the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC) where a pleasant staff member brought the test kit to my car. That afternoon I got the results – thankfully negative – putting my mind at rest that I could be placing anyone else at risk of infection either through social engagements or business travel.

So how does this technology work?

The voluntary CO Exposure Notifications app uses your phone’s Bluetooth technology connected to a service that can quickly notify you if you’ve been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Knowing about a potential exposure allows you to reduce the risk to your family, friends, neighbors, and community.

This technology was developed by Google and Apple to help governments and the global community to fight the pandemic through contact tracing. Whenever you are within six feet of someone for at least 10 minutes, both phones will exchange secure, anonymous tokens using Bluetooth. If another user you’ve been near tests positive for COVID-19, they can upload their result to the app which will send a push notification to you and anyone else their phone has exchanged tokens with recently, notifying you of a possible exposure. Your privacy is protected using a random key and no GPS location data is collected. If you test positive, you can easily and anonymously notify others to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Thanks to the prompt test results provided by HRRMC, I was able to quickly post my negative test result to the app, voluntarily contributing to Colorado’s tracking data. I would encourage anyone who is not yet vaccinated to consider getting the vaccine to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. I would also encourage downloading the free CO Exposure Notifications app to help fight the spread of COVID-19 in the community.