More Than 1 Million Coloradans Have Activated Coronavirus Exposure Notifications

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Denver’s drive-through coronavirus testing facility in the parking lot of Paco Sanchez Park just off Federal Boulevard was busy on Nov. 18, 2020, ahead of Thanksgiving.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) reported more than 1 million Coloradans have activated the smartphone-based Exposure Notifications System since its launch in late October.

That's a 17 percent adoption rate in Colorado, said Sarah Tuneberg, CDPHE's special COVID-19 advisor. The department has previously stated a 15 percent adoption rate could lead to potential improvements in death and infection rates.

Tuneberg said the notification system is one part of the larger picture of slowing down the virus in Colorado.

"None of these strategies alone can do it, we all have to do all of them to the best of our ability," she said. "So wear a mask, stay apart, be with your household only, enable exposure notifications, and just stay home."

Tuneberg also said the system is rolling out new process improvements to rapidly reach people with confirmed positive COVID-19 test results.

Earlier in the rollout, public health agencies would provide a code for people who tested positive for COVID-19. People could then use the anonymous, one-time code to alert everyone they came in contact with who also enabled the app of possible exposure. The system was sending between 20 and 40 codes a day.

Now, Tuneberg said the department has automated those texts to improve the process to "reduce the burden on local public health agencies" as cases continue to increase across the state. With automation, the department is now able to send between 3,000 and 5,000 every day.

Starting Wednesday, these texts will also include information on how to isolate and other infection prevention strategies.

So far, 3,400 Coloradans have shared their positive test results to notify others of potential exposure, Tuneberg said.