5 On Your Side

Cellphone users express coronavirus tracking concerns

Posted June 24, 2020 4:09 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2020 12:01 p.m. EDT

— Have you checked to see if you have a COVID-19 tracker on your phone?

5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte is hearing concerns that Apple or Google secretly installed one to help determine if you may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

You probably picture the tracker collecting and sending data. So if you pass or are near someone in your circle so-to-speak, and they get the virus or you do, you'll be notified.

Cell phone COVID-19 tracking

The start of that technology may already be on your phone.

In phone settings, whether iPhone or Android, search for COVID-19.

The Exposure Notifications option will appear.

Make sure you have an updated operating system.

Maybe you've seen the posts about it on social media -- warnings that your phone could already be contact tracing or tracking you without your permission.

5 On Your Side looked into this report, and what's happening is not quite what everyone is buzzing about, discussing.

While the COVID-19 Notifications option is there, it's not on and needs to be connected to a COVID-tracking app to work.

It will be a tool for governments or health agencies to use, to launch their own COVID-19 tracking.

Will that happen in North Carolina?

5 On Your Side reached out to the state health department.

A spokeswoman said the state is "not currently using any GPS, Bluetooth or other location-based contact notification apps, but we are looking at all options."

The COVID-19 Exposure feature exchanges information with other devices. It's activated with an app. If launched and used, it would notify you if you were exposed to someone with COVID-19.

If North Carolina decides to launch it, 5 On Your Side will let you know.

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