Received a coronavirus exposure notification on your smartphone? Here’s what it means.

The Louisiana Department of Health says over 400,000 people in the state have enabled coronavirus exposure notifications on their smartphones since push alerts promoting the technology were first sent out Friday. Rachael Kramas, a program manager with LDH’s Office of Public Health said iPhone users are prompted to enable technology already built into their smartphones, while Google’s Android users are directed to download an app. “You turn on your Bluetooth and your device will automatically pick up other Bluetooth signals around it and exchange anonymous random IDs every 10 to 20 minutes,” Kramas said. LDH said the random IDs are stored in users’ phones for about two weeks. Users who test positive for the virus can use a code to anonymously alert any users they were close to of their potential exposure. Kramas said the strength and duration of the signal help determine who was potentially exposed.“A phone in the pocket of someone sitting on the couch next to you is going to have a stronger signal than somebody across the hall or over in the next room,” Kramas said.She added that the department took steps to protect users’ privacy and the technology does not interact with a user’s social media account or access their contacts. Still, some are skeptical.In New Orleans, Jacoby Carter enabled the notifications and walked through downtown Tuesday while the system used his Bluetooth signal to ping other users nearby. He said he has some hesitations but is keeping the system running to help slow the spread of the virus.“It’s actually going into people’s private life, so I don’t really think it’s OK, but it’s cool that you can know that so you can be safe,” Carter said.Kramas said alerting people quickly to potential exposures gives them critical information that could change their behavior, such as seeking out testing, choosing to work from home, if possible, and isolating from people who are at high risk or not fully vaccinated.LDH said the technology builds on its COVID-19 Defense app launched in January and is similar to smartphone technology currently being used in other states.

The Louisiana Department of Health says over 400,000 people in the state have enabled coronavirus exposure notifications on their smartphones since push alerts promoting the technology were first sent out Friday.

Rachael Kramas, a program manager with LDH’s Office of Public Health said iPhone users are prompted to enable technology already built into their smartphones, while Google’s Android users are directed to download an app.

“You turn on your Bluetooth and your device will automatically pick up other Bluetooth signals around it and exchange anonymous random IDs every 10 to 20 minutes,” Kramas said.

LDH said the random IDs are stored in users’ phones for about two weeks. Users who test positive for the virus can use a code to anonymously alert any users they were close to of their potential exposure. Kramas said the strength and duration of the signal help determine who was potentially exposed.

“A phone in the pocket of someone sitting on the couch next to you is going to have a stronger signal than somebody across the hall or over in the next room,” Kramas said.

She added that the department took steps to protect users’ privacy and the technology does not interact with a user’s social media account or access their contacts. Still, some are skeptical.

In New Orleans, Jacoby Carter enabled the notifications and walked through downtown Tuesday while the system used his Bluetooth signal to ping other users nearby. He said he has some hesitations but is keeping the system running to help slow the spread of the virus.

“It’s actually going into people’s private life, so I don’t really think it’s OK, but it’s cool that you can know that so you can be safe,” Carter said.

Kramas said alerting people quickly to potential exposures gives them critical information that could change their behavior, such as seeking out testing, choosing to work from home, if possible, and isolating from people who are at high risk or not fully vaccinated.

LDH said the technology builds on its COVID-19 Defense app launched in January and is similar to smartphone technology currently being used in other states.