The alert system has been around for more than a year but with the omicron surge, the number of notifications going out has gone up.
RELATED: Omicron surge could be over by February, UCSF doctor predicts
CA Notify is a voluntary smartphone tool that lets you know if you've spent time near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
"We've seen a huge increase in notifications," said Dr. Chris Longhurst. "In fact, our notifications tend to precede cases by four to five days."
Longhurst is the Chief Medical Officer at UC San Diego Health which the state contracted to help develop CA Notify.
"Last winter, we saw the exposure notification tool was only notifying two to three people on average, which we expected because we were still in lockdown," said Dr. Chris Longhurst. "Last summer, when we reopened the state, we saw that jump to six or seven people. This fall, particularly during the holidays, on average, every positive exposure has generated eight to ten anonymous notifications."
RELATED: COVID's surge, omicron's threat, boosters' protection: What to know about next chapter in pandemic
Now with omicron surging, people may be getting notifications for the first time since opting in to CA Notify.
"Many people have forgotten they have turned (the notifications) on their phone," Longhurst said. "But more and more people are receiving them."
Here's how it works:
You have to add CA Notify to your phone. If you have an iPhone it's a matter of activating it, if you have Android you have to download the app.
Using Bluetooth technology, your phone shares anonymous codes with other people who have CA Notify that are within six feet for at least 15 minutes.
RELATED: What to know about rapid COVID at-home tests as demand for testing surges
If one of those people ends up testing positive and they share that result with the app, you'll get a notification that gives you step-by-step instructions on what to do next.
Along with first getting a test, it may tell you to quarantine for five days if you think the exposure it's alerting you to was real.
"Getting an alert on your phone doesn't always mean that you've had a true exposure," Longhurst said. "You may have been in a setting where you're masked, you may have been in a setting where the other individual was known to be positive, and you're already aware of this."
The state says that CA Notify does not gather information like your name, contact information, location or the identity of people you meet.
We don't have the ability to track metrics at an individual level only at a population level. However, we're getting lots and lots of stories from individuals who received a positive exposure alert did not have a known exposure, but went and tested and lo and behold, they found they were positive. If they had not tested they would have continued that cycle of transmission.
To find out more about CA Notify, click here.
VACCINE TRACKER: How California is doing, when you can get a coronavirus vaccine
Having trouble loading the tracker above? Click here to open it in a new window.
RELATED STORIES & VIDEOS:
- Map shows everywhere you can get a COVID-19 test in the Bay Area
- COVID's surge, omicron's threat, boosters' protection: What to know about next chapter in pandemic
- What to know about breakthrough COVID infections as cases among vaccinated rise
- California's indoor mask mandate: A Bay Area guide to changes in your county
- How severe is omicron? Expert says variant's 50 mutations could be its downfall
- Is it COVID, a cold or the flu? Here are a few easy ways to tell
- Here's everything you need to know about COVID-19 booster shots
- How to show proof of vaccination in San Francisco or anywhere in California
- Should vaccinated people get tested if exposed to COVID-19? CDC explains
- Can a breakthrough infection still lead to long haul COVID-19? San Francisco doctor explains
- Data tracker: Coronavirus cases, deaths, hospitalizations in every Bay Area county
- Get the latest updates on California EDD, stimulus checks, unemployment benefits
- Coronavirus origin: Where did COVID-19 come from?
- What is a COVID-19 genetic, antigen and antibody test?
- What does COVID-19 do to your body and why does it spread so easily?
- Coronavirus Timeline: Tracking major moments of COVID-19 pandemic in San Francisco Bay Area