Oregon will 'pause' development of delayed COVID-19 exposure app

The Oregon Health Authority says that it will focus on vaccinations and other priorities, putting the notification app on the backburner.

Posted: Apr 6, 2021 4:35 PM
Updated: Apr 6, 2021 5:36 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon's prolonged effort to develop a coronavirus exposure notification app will be put on "pause" indefinitely, the Oregon Health Authority announced on Tuesday.

OHA said that it decided this week to pause ongoing planning for the Exposure Notification app project, preferring to focus on vaccinations "and other priority efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic." The agency said that it had spent the past six months in communication with local public health officials and other partners, going over the potential benefits and costs of the app.

The agency mentioned the intensive efforts that state and local officials would need to make in order to promote the app and address any gaps in its adoption "across Oregon's diverse communities," in addition to the necessary contact tracing that would need to be needed to make the app effective.

OHA said that it reached the decision to pause the app after consulting with Governor Kate Brown's office.

“Approximately two dozen states have chosen not to deploy smartphone-based apps at this time and instead to rely on other tools to stop the spread of COVID-19," said OHA Public Health director Rachael Banks. "Oregon is focused on building trust with people in communities across the state to get all Oregonians vaccinated and sustain the other COVID-19 prevention practices, such as wearing a mask, staying physically distant and limiting the size and frequency of indoor social get-togethers. These strategies have prevented more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in our state. We’ll continue to prioritize these approaches because they remain our best bet to end the pandemic.”

Governor Brown announced last fall that the state would explore using an Exposure Notification app, and a partial roll-out was expected by January. Instead, there was an accidental roll-out on Apple devices on January 1, with OHA swiftly interceding to take it back down. At that time, the app was still supposed to have an official launch within the near future.

By the beginning of March, Oregon was one of the only states in the western U.S. without a contact tracing app, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported. California's system launched before mid-December of 2020, with Washington starting even earlier.

The news comes amid a steady rise in COVID-19 cases statewide, with OHA reporting 544 new cases and 33 deaths attributed to the virus on Tuesday. At the same time, vaccinations for the virus continue to rise, with state officials reporting 784,476 people fully vaccinated. Nearly 1.3 million people have received at least one dose.

Governor Brown earlier on Tuesday characterized the state's position as "locked in a race between vaccine distribution and the spread of [COVID-19] variants." All Oregonians over the age of 16 will become eligible to receive the vaccine on April 19.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 173626

Reported Deaths: 2457
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34641566
Washington23309229
Marion20037299
Clackamas15216204
Lane11478144
Jackson9846127
Umatilla795383
Deschutes698772
Linn410763
Yamhill407074
Malheur342558
Polk341752
Klamath340859
Josephine304262
Douglas302765
Benton272518
Jefferson205932
Coos196631
Columbia153326
Union141124
Lincoln129720
Wasco128628
Hood River112429
Morrow107815
Clatsop8838
Crook86819
Baker85114
Curry5919
Tillamook5763
Lake4137
Grant4044
Harney3046
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam551
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3714587

Reported Deaths: 60922
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122811823601
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2944644544
San Diego2745663662
Orange2687624886
Santa Clara1167722013
Kern1077641317
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1004311642
Alameda850891475
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66839781
Stanislaus603061028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43260352
San Mateo41050560
San Francisco35947517
Santa Barbara33830446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29632311
Imperial27920718
Kings22755245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16234239
Santa Cruz15554203
Marin13851226
Yolo13547199
Shasta11677217
Butte11529196
El Dorado9688109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito596963
Lassen566624
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador361646
Humboldt358737
Lake339943
Glenn235425
Colusa219216
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4197
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
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