Los Angeles

LA County Partners With Citizen SafePass App for Coronavirus Contact Tracing

SafePass is completely voluntary and only works when someone downloads the app and opts into the service.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Los Angeles County on Wednesday announced a partnership with the developer of the popular Citizen public safety app to use their technology in the county's continued battle against the spread of COVID-19.

The SafePass app can track symptoms, find testing sites, enable Bluetooth contact tracing, and notify the user if they have had extended contact with somebody who later tests positive for coronavirus, according to the maker's website.

"SafePass, which can be activated through the Citizen app, will support our collective efforts to keep our residents safe and help us move forward in our recovery journey and continue with reopening,” said LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger at a news conference alongside LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Wednesday.

SafePass is completely voluntary and only works when someone downloads the app and opts into the service. All data collected through the app is encrypted to ensure privacy and security, and everyone's identity remains anonymous, according to Barger.

Robert Kovacik reports for NBC LA at 11 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

“Throughout this process, we’ve been very careful to institute strict privacy protections both by the County of Los Angeles and by Citizen," Barger noted. "These privacy precautions are intended to fully protect the users and their contacts.”

Barger says that the SafePass app is a valuable tool to help support the county's existing tracing program, which currently has deployed 2,600 contact tracers, many of whom are county disaster social workers, and who have completed nearly 195,000 contact tracing interviews.

"Robust, efficient, thorough contact tracing is critical to interpret the ongoing transmission of the disease and to reduce its spread,” said Barger.

“There remains a burning need for continuous steps and actions to contain COVID-19, and this is the ultimate test that has required an amalgamation between government, the leading medical experts of the world and leading technology platforms," Citizen CEO Andrew Frame said.

The SafePass app is available for download in the Apple and Google app stores.

Officials continue to urge residents to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Garcetti also said the city will open a COVID-19 testing kiosk from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday thru Sunday at Union Station.

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