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Apple and Google team up on virus ‘contact tracing’ by smartphone

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Google and Apple unveiled a joint initiative Friday to use smartphones to trace coronavirus contacts to battle the pandemic.

The move brings together the largest mobile operating systems in an effort to use smartphone technology to track and potentially contain the global COVID-19 outbreak.

Smartphones powered by Apple software and Google-backed Android operating system would be able to exchange information with a joint “opt in system.”

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The tech giants will collaborate on a “contact tracing” system which can identify people in contact with an infected person. and alert users.

“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems,” the companies said in a joint statement.

The first step will be release next month of software interface and operating system-level technology to let iPhones and Android-powered phones share information through applications provided by public health authorities, according to the companies.

The move comes with governments around the world studying or implementing measures to use smartphone location technology to identify people with the virus and keep them from infecting others, even as the efforts raise privacy and civil liberties concerns.

Apple and Google said they will work together in the coming months to use standard Bluetooth capabilities relied on by wireless devices such as earbuds to be used to let handsets exchange information.

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Apple and Google contended that “privacy, transparency, and consent” were top priorities in the joint initiative.

“All of us at Apple and Google believe there has never been a more important moment to work together to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems,” the longtime rivals said in the release.

“Through close cooperation and collaboration with developers, governments and public health providers, we hope to harness the power of technology to help countries around the world slow the spread of COVID-19 and accelerate the return of everyday life.”

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Mask-hating Trump supporter banned from local store after she ‘rammed someone with a cart’: report

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A woman who was permanently banned from entering a local hardware store for refusing to wear a face mask tells Vox that she's proud that her defiance of public health standards got her kicked out.

In an interview, a Wyoming resident named Jacqueline says that her local Menards home and garden store has told her that she is no longer allowed to shop there for refusing to wear a face mask on two separate occasions.

Although she was still allowed to shop at the store after the first time she came in without a face mask, she was permanently given the boot when she got into a physical altercation with an employee during her second trip to the store.

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US COVID death toll projected to hit almost 300,000 by December

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An influential novel coronavirus pandemic model now projects that deaths from the disease in the United States could hit almost 300,000 by the start of December.

NPR reports that researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation say that the United States is headed toward a grim fall in which COVID-19 deaths will nearly double from their current level of 160,000 in the next four months.

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The only Texas prison reporting zero coronavirus cases is where inmates make soap. But that’s not what’s credited with protecting it.

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Of more than 100 Texas prison units, the Roach Unit's apparent ability to avoid the virus has been attributed to a remote location and a warden who strictly enforces precautionary measures.

The only Texas prison that hasn’t had any staff or inmates test positive for the new coronavirus is the same one where inmates make soap and package hand sanitizer for the state’s lockups. Prisoners aren’t allowed to use the latter.

How this one unit seemingly remains untouched by a virus that has ravaged the state’s prison system, however, has been credited not to its soap factory, but to the prison’s location and the warden’s strict enforcement of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s coronavirus policy. Meanwhile, those inside prisons with hundreds of infected inmates have long reported dangerous practices. In lawsuits and letters, they have described officers without face masks, forced intermingling between infected and healthy prisoners, and limits to soap and cleaning supplies.

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