SACRAMENTO–Governor Gavin Newsom Wednesday announced that Washington and Oregon, members of the Western States Pact, will participate with California in piloting a project to test promising exposure notification technology.
These states join other members of the Western States Pact, Colorado, and Nevada, along with states and universities across the country, in piloting this technology.
Announced Friday by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Technology, the pilot project will test the Exposure Notification Express mobile application pioneered by Google and Apple. The app confidentially notifies individuals who may have been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus. Privacy and security are central to the design of the technology, which does not collect location data from any device and never shares user identities. Users must opt-in to the technology.
“Exposure notification technology has tremendous potential to slow the spread of COVID-19 within our communities and our region,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “With the participation of the Western States Pact in this important endeavor, our public health officials and academic and technology partners can share experiences and lessons as they develop the Exposure Notification Express application. I thank my fellow governors for so many acts of collaboration and coordination during this crisis, and I look forward to our continued partnership in the fight against COVID-19.”
“Exposure notification is one of the most important things we can do in a pandemic. Getting this information to people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 helps them take the steps they need to stay healthy, and it helps their communities from potentially being further exposed,” said Washington Governor Jay Inslee. “In the absence of a strong national strategy to fight COVID-19, coordinated efforts between states on reining in this pandemic are critical. Washingtonians are grateful to have partners like Oregon and California in this fight.”
“Knowledge is power when it comes to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and this pilot project will help people make informed decisions to keep themselves healthy, while still protecting individual privacy,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “COVID-19 knows no state borders, and my goal is to make sure, if more widely implemented, this exposure notification technology is made available to those communities that have been disproportionately impacted by this disease—Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Pacific Islander, and Tribal communities, as well as those living in the rural parts of our states.”
“This innovative solution will help us slow the spread of this deadly virus. We should use this tech to our advantage, and the more states and people that participate, the more we can detect and prevent potential hot spots and defeat the virus,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis. “This new tool will allow Coloradans to voluntarily participate in saving lives and staying safe while protecting their privacy and safety.”
“The Nevada COVID Trace app launched in late August to great success and is one more way technology can help provide valuable, safe, and secure information to Nevadans and our visitors about their potential exposure to COVID-19,” said Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. “We know that there is strength in numbers, and I am so glad to work with the leaders from the rest of the Western States Pact in these important efforts to help keep all of our residents safe and healthy.”
Since the earliest days of the pandemic, the Western States Pact has collaborated to protect health and safety and slow the spread of COVID-19. In April, states in the Pact announced they would be working together under a shared vision for gradually modifying their states’ stay-at-home orders and fighting COVID-19. California also worked with Washington and Oregon to share best practices on how our states can allow hospitals and medical providers to resume delayed medical care in areas that have sufficient hospital capacity while ensuring the safety and health of our health care workers and patients. Additionally, through the Western States Pact, governors and legislative leaders from five western states requested $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments to preserve core government services like public health, public safety, and public education, and help people get back to work.