Digital Contact Tracing Could Help End Quarantine. Here's How It Works
Smartphone apps could help public health officials trace the spread of the virus. But this tech has caused concern among privacy advocates.
This video includes animation from Dave Glanz.
The world is in quarantine. And public health experts say ending that quarantine safely might rely on something called "contact tracing." This approach would use a fairly new technology that relies on a device we're all pretty familiar with: a smartphone. And it could have huge implications for health, tech, and privacy.
For decades, contact tracing has been a kind of detective work for figuring out who's spreading a virus. But on a large scale, it takes an army of monitors conducting interviews. Which is why contact tracing is now going high-tech.
Here's how that could work. As quarantine winds down, two strangers share the same park bench and have a brief conversation. Each of their phones have a contact tracing app that uses Bluetooth to record that the two devices have been near each other through unique identifying beacons.
A few days later, one of these people tests positive for COVID-19. He enters his test result into the app, and any device that collected one of his ID beacons over the past 14 days, including the phone belonging to the other person from the park, receives a message alerting her she's come into contact with someone who tested positive.
This kind of digital contact tracing was used in Singapore and South Korea, both of which effectively slowed the spread of the virus.
Now, with major U.S. companies offering tools to deploy this technology worldwide, we're talking about major potential as well as major privacy concerns.
Why Summer Didn't Slow Down COVID-19
Some experts had hoped summer would help control the pandemic. But COVID-19 cases are nearing record levels nationwide. Here's what happened.
Reshaped By Pandemic, Cities Claim Streets For More Than Just Cars
As people head outdoors this summer, cities help them to maintain safe distances by creating "slow streets," roads designed for more than just cars.
What Connects HIV And COVID-19? Their Impact On Black People
Dr. Anthony Fauci says pandemics expose how the American health care system fails black communities.
Why President Biden won't comment on Trump's indictment anytime soon
Commenting on the indictment of former President Donald Trump could have different political implications for President Joe Biden.
7 California officers charged in death of LA motorist caught on video
An 18-minute video of the incident, recorded by one of the officers on the scene, shows Edward Bronstein handcuffed and on his knees.
Trump faces at least one felony charge, AP sources say
Two anonymous sources told the Associated Press that Donald Trump faces at least one felony charge. Scripps News has not confirmed any charges yet.