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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Coronavirus contact tracing apps used in the EU should protect privacy and be compatible enough with one another to track the spread of the virus across borders, the European Commission wrote to its members on Thursday.

Why it matters: Contact tracing — or tracking down those who have interacted with a virus patient and advising them to self-isolate — is seen as a key step, along with widespread testing, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Where it stands: In countries like France, Norway and Poland, Bluetooth is the primary strategy for contact tracing apps, the EU reports. The organization says that contact tracing should not rely on location data.

  • The Czech Republic is piloting using users' locations to build maps of where they have spent significant time within the last five days. The tech is operating in three regions, per the EU.
  • In the U.S., Apple and Google have proposed technology that notifies users if they've come into contact with someone with the virus, without sharing location data with the government.
  • MIT researchers are building a system that matches Bluetooth signals emitted from an infected individual's smartphone over 14 days to other phones, to find who they've come into contact with.

What they're saying: “Mobile apps can warn us of infection risks and support health authorities with contact tracing, which is essential to break transmission chains. We need to be diligent, creative, and flexible in our approaches to opening up our societies again," Stella Kyriakides, the EU health commissioner, said in a Thursday press release.

Background: Large-scale testing, contact tracing, a health system that can withstand new patient surges, and a sustained pattern of lowered infections are all necessary for countries to relax quarantines, the European Commission advised on Wednesday.

  • The ability of competing apps to work together "would allow for a more effective warning of people concerned and a more efficient public health policy follow-up," the Commission said on Wednesday.

Go deeper: Contact tracing is the latest coronavirus red flag

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Investors pour millions into immersive, interactive art experiences

Photo Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP via Getty Images

How much would you pay for "a sleek, if pleasantly confusing, package of moods" or "a confusing tangle of disjointed installations" or even "the total erosion of meaning itself"? The answer, according to the current market-clearing price, seems to be about $35.

Why it matters: Investors are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into ticketed experiences — immersive, interactive museum-like spaces that don't have the d0-not-touch stuffiness of traditional museums.

Special Envoy for Haiti resigns over Biden deportations

Daniel Foote testifies during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on May 26, 2016. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Special Envoy for Haiti on Wednesday resigned from his position, writing in his resignation letter obtained by PBS that he "will not be associated with the United States inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees."

Why it matters: Ambassador Daniel Foote's resignation comes amid heightened anger over the treatment of Haitian migrants and asylum-seekers living in a temporary encampment in Del Rio, Texas — especially after images surfaced of Border Patrol agents whipping at the migrants from horseback.

First-time homebuyers shrink as prices spike

Data: National Association of Realtors; Chart: Axios Visuals

Home sales cooled as prices continued to heat up in August.

Driving the news: The share of first-time existing homebuyers (29%) last month was the smallest in two years, according to new data from the National Association of Realtors.