Apple's New Tool Lets You Screen Yourself For COVID-19
Apple's new COVID-19 website and app allow users to screen themselves for coronavirus symptoms and receive recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on what to do next.
The tool was developed in partnership with the CDC, the White House's coronavirus task force and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Both the website and the app were made publicly available on Friday.
In a statement, Apple cautioned that the new screening tool is "designed to be a resource for individuals and does not replace instructions from healthcare providers or guidance from state and local health authorities."
When a user visits the site or downloads the app, the first thing they're asked is whether they're screening themselves or someone else.
Immediately after that, Apple flashes a warning screen, instructing anyone with constant chest pain or pressure, extreme difficulty breathing, severe and constant dizziness or lightheadedness, slurred speech or difficulty waking up to immediately call 911.
If you aren't experiencing any of those symptoms, you'll continue to a questionnaire that asks about symptoms, travel, preexisting conditions and contact with other people.
After the questionnaire is submitted, the tool provides recommendations from the CDC on how to proceed. These include guidance on social distancing and self-isolation, how to monitor symptoms at home, whether to get tested and when to seek advice from a medical professional.
While the app and site may advise a COVID-19 test, Apple does not provide details on where to get tested. Instead, the tool instructs users to "get in touch with your doctor's office or your state or local health department for more information." The tool also offers the following caveat: "Testing access may vary by location and provider."
In the United States, testing availability continues to be far behind demand. In areas where tests are scarce, testing may be limited to people who are very sick and require a positive test result to receive proper treatment.
Apple's new tool does not require signing in with an Apple ID, and the company says "individual responses will not be sent to Apple or any government organization."
Apple says it will not collect personal information, such as answers from the screening tool, but it will collect "some information" to help improve the site. Any "information collected will not personally identify you," according to Apple.
In addition to screening tool, the tool offers other resources, including answers to frequently asked questions and the latest advice from the CDC.
Apple is also rolling out several other features to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. You can now ask Siri questions like, "How do I know if I have the coronavirus?" In response, you'll be directed to CDC guidance and a collection of telehealth apps available in Apple's app store.
Amazon's Alexa offers a similar feature, while the CDC has its own chatbot, the "Coronavirus Self-Checker."
Some travelers have received notifications on their iPhones about current CDC guidelines after landing at select international airports across the United States, according to Apple.
Earlier this month, President Trump said Google had 1,700 engineers working on a new website that would help Americans determine whether to seek testing for the coronavirus.
Google quickly clarified that an affiliated company, Verily, was working on the project on a limited scale. The website is now functional in "select counties" in California.
Last weekend, Google also launched a national website that provides users with information and alerts about the coronavirus.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.