California launches COVID-19 contact tracing program

Calls, texts and emails from public health workers will help track where those who test positive have been, and who they've been in close contact with.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read
california connected infographic

California's contact tracing program.

California Connected

California launched its coronavirus contact tracing program Friday, with Gov. Gavin Newsom also kicking off a public awareness campaign to get people to take part. The program, called California Connected, will see public health workers reach out to people who test positive for COVID-19 and enable access to free confidential testing and medical advice. They'll also offer testing to people who have been in close contact with those who tested positive.

Texts and calls will come in on phones under the caller ID "CA COVID Team," as will emails. They will ask for your name, age, places you've been and people you've been in contact with, but will never ask for financial information, Social Security numbers or immigration status.

It should help stop the spread of the coronavirus by identifying and isolating new cases.

"We are all eager to get back to work and play," the governor said Friday. "We're asking Californians to answer the call when they see their local public health department reaching out by phone, email or text. That simple action of answering the call could save lives and help keep our families and communities healthy."

Billboards, radio ads, social media posts and video ads will begin to be shown today so Californians are aware of the program. 

Eventually, there will be 10,000 contact tracers across the state, but for now 500 public health care workers have been trained under the program.

Contact tracing programs have previously been used in California for polio, tuberculosis, measles, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

It differs from the contact tracing program being developed with Apple and Google, which will use your phone's Bluetooth and mapping technology to track where you go and who you are near.

The goal of both programs is to keep people who have been exposed to a positive case isolated so they don't transmit the disease to others.

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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.