Various tech-based systems for COVID-19 contact tracing have emerged during the pandemic, from Apple and Google’s jointly developed system to New York City’s contact tracing partnership with Salesforce.

Here is a timeline of COVID-19 contact tracing news from Apple, Google, Salesforce and other tech companies as reported by Becker’s Hospital Review in the last three months:

April 10 – Google, Apple work together on APIs to track COVID-19 spread: 5 details
Google and Apple announce a new partnership to help governments and health agencies track the spread of COVID-19 using Bluetooth technology to monitor people who have come in contact with individuals who tested positive for the coronavirus.

April 24 – Apple and Google expand security, privacy of COVID-19 tracking system
CNBC reports that Apple and Google are updating their joint contact tracing system to include the following abilities: share strength and duration of a Bluetooth signal so the apps can make better judgments of COVID-19 encounters; notify people about the number of days since potential exposure; and security around random keys and the system’s processing of Bluetooth metadata.

May 1 – Will smartphone users opt in to Google & Apple’s contact-tracing app?
A Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken in April finds that about 68 percent of Americans are willing to use a smartphone app to share test results with public health officials in order to track the spread of the outbreak. However, only 31 percent said they would be willing to download an app managed by private tech companies, including Apple and Google.

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May 5 – Apple, Google prohibit location tracking in contact tracing apps: 5 rules for developers 
Apple and Google announce their jointly developed COVID-19 tracking system will prohibit the use of location tracking and that apps must ask for the user’s consent before employing the tracking capabilities.

May 8 – New York City teams up with Salesforce on COVID-19 contact tracing program
New York City taps Salesforce to build a COVID-19 contact tracing program complete with a call center and customer relationship and case management system to better track spread of infection.

May 20 – Google, Apple contact tracing API hits the market, 3 states commit to using it in apps
Apple and Google launch their interoperable API, and Alabama, North Dakota and South Carolina all commit to using it in statewide apps designed to slow the spread of COVID-19.

May 26 – New York City taps cloud platform for contact tracing program
New York City partners with cloud communications platform Twilio to power the city’s IT and telecommunications department’s COVID-19 contact tracing program.

May 28 – NIH seeks to create COVID-19 contact tracing app that doesn’t compromise privacy 
The National Institutes of Health issues a request for information to companies that can provide recommendations on developing a smartphone app that can both collect COVID-19 information and keep users’ data confidential and secure. 

June 8 – Amazon employees sue over ‘sloppy’ contact tracing
CNBC reports that three Amazon warehouse workers have sued the tech giant over its contact tracing efforts during the pandemic, alleging Amazon didn’t follow proper guidelines from CDC and other public health agencies when it comes to contact tracing and stopping the spread of the virus.

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June 10 – COVID-19 contact tracing tech: The states that committed to, passed over Apple, Google system
Business Insider reports that since Apple and Google launched their COVID-19 contact tracing system, only three states have committed to using it. At the time of publication, nineteen states told Business Insider they had not yet decided if they would use the tech giant’s system while 16 states said they have no plans to build a smartphone-based system.

More articles on health IT:
Google moves further into healthcare: A timeline of the last year
10 companies CIOs find most valuable for digital transformation
AAFP Innovation Lab recruiting 100 physicians to pilot EHR voice assistant


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