By Chand Bellur
April 9, 2020 at 2:45 p.m. PDT
- The COVID-19 Pandemic has so far infected over 1.5 million and killed almost 100,000.
- Testing has proven to be a challenge, with limited availability in some areas.
- Stanford Medicine and Apple developed an app to help first responders quickly self-diagnose the need for COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 Spreads Rapidly Throughout the World
Although much of the media currently engage in happy talk and optimism, the worst days of the pandemic are ahead of us. As it stands, those exposed and recovered from the disease account for a small percentage of the population. With no vaccine or therapies coming soon, testing is crucial to lifting stay-at-home orders across the globe.
Some nations have done a phenomenal job with testing, tracing contacts and isolating possibly infected individuals. South Korea and Germany, in particular, put forth remarkable effort to contain the disease, with much success.
The United States government coordinates resources poorly. A plurality of states are fighting over testing supplies and personal protective equipment, while the federal government is largely ineffective.
A disaster like Hurricane Katrina only affected a few states, yet the federal response was abysmal. With a pandemic affecting all fifty states, the U.S. government has shown a remarkable lack of leadership, leaving the states, counties, municipalities and even the private sector to reel up the slack.
Apple and Stanford Partnership Provide COVID-19 Diagnostics and Information for First Responders
First responders are at high risk for contracting novel coronavirus. As essential employees, they cannot stay at home, like the rest of the public. They must fight fires, catch bad guys and provide medical care. Interacting with others is part of the job.
Testing is critical to containing the pandemic. If a first responder falls ill, quarantining the sick individual is essential. For these reasons, Stanford Medicine and Apple teamed up to provide a solution.
The First Responder COVID-19 Guide, available in the App Store, features a decision tree to determine testing needs. The essential employee answers a series of questions with the app presenting action items. If the app determines that the user may have COVID-19, it will direct the first responder to get tested.
Unfortunately, the app does not steer users to available testing facilities. Other tech news websites claim that the app recommends testing facilities. Appledystopia, however, reviewed the app and confirmed that it does not suggest testing facilities. It merely advises anyone who may be sick, based on a questionnaire, to get tested.
Although news about the First Responder COVID-19 Guide seems encouraging, the app reaps low hanging fruit. It’s a simple decision tree with some dynamic content; however, it doesn’t advise users on testing locations. Until testing improves, the U.S. and its massive economy remain in lockdown.