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iPhone contact tracing app launched by mistake, Oregon Health Authority says

Oregon iPhone users who were prompted on New Year’s Day to enroll in Apple’s contact tracing app can disregard the notification, state health officials say.

The Oregon Health Authority states that Apple “inadvertently” turned on the state’s OR Exposure Notification Application “earlier than anticipated,” according to a release from the state. The app links to Apple’s contact tracing app for devices running iOS 13.7 or later — which can anonymously notify phones that have come near an infected person that they may have been exposed.

The premature deployment Friday morning led to full-screen notifications encouraging iPhone users in the state to enroll. The state said they “will be turning it off” until OR Notify is ready.

The OR Notify project is a partnership between the Oregon State University and the Oregon Health Authority, and the university led a pilot program for the state’s contact tracing app that ended Thursday.

“OHA will be assessing the results to determine when to roll out the application,” the release states, adding that once properly deployed, OR Notify will work with Apple and Android smartphones.

State health officials Friday recorded 1,446 new COVID-19 cases around the state Friday, including 50 new cases in Jackson County, bringing Oregon’s latest case count to 115,339. The state also recorded 13 new deaths, bringing Oregon’s coronavirus death toll to 1,490.

As of Friday, 44,415 Oregonians have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and another 146,085 more doses have been delivered to sites around the state.

As of Wednesday, 1,925 Jackson County residents had been vaccinated, according to the most recent state vaccination data broken down by county.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

This image provided by Apple shows iPhone 12 models unveiled in October. The Oregon Health Authority says a contact tracing app went out to iPhones around the state in error Friday morning.{ } (Apple via AP)
This image provided by Apple shows a display of the new iPhones equipped with technology for use with faster new 5G wireless networks that Apple unveiled Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. (Apple via AP)