James Martin/CNET
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Apple and Google want to make it easier for health agencies to join its coronavirus exposure notification system, creating a new option that will allow them to help people track and alert one another about coronavirus infections without having to build an app.

The new option, called exposure notifications express, will allow people to join Apple’s and Google’s coronavirus notifications without needing to download an app from their local health department. This, the two companies said, will help spread adoption without putting pressure on health officials, some of whom have told the tech companies they don’t have the resources to build an app.

“We are making it easier and faster for them to use the Exposure Notifications System without the need for them to build and maintain an app,” Apple and Google said in a statement. The companies said they’ll continue to support public health authorities who have built their own apps, such as Canada. “Exposure Notifications Express provides another option for public health authorities to supplement their existing contact tracing operations with technology without compromising on the project’s core tenets of user privacy and security.”

The move marks a shift for Apple and Google who began working on the joint coronavirus effort in the spring, around when the coronavirus’s spread became more clear. Fast forward to the fall, and now more than 25 million people have been infected around the world, and more than 851,000 patients have died, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University.

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