HUNTSVILLE, Ala — If you have the ‘GuideSafe’ app downloaded on your phone, you’re already taking extra steps to ensure you and your loved ones are staying as safe as possible from coronavirus exposure.
Some new updates were announced for the app. Our team tells us how these changes could help us all work to stop the spread.
Dr. Karen Landers of the Alabama Department of Health speaks during a virtual press conference. She says, “This is just another piece of technology. This is just another weapon, if you will, that we have in our arsenal to battle this very severe disease that we are encountering and really having a second wave of at the moment.”
The Guidesafe App has some important updates:
The app is now connected to the Association of Public Health Laboratories National Verification server-- meaning users can get information and alerts from that source too, which makes things a lot more accurate.
Dr. Landers says, “Keep in mind that as we travel, both within Alabama and other parts of the United States, certainly states that have the same capability that we have. This will add another layer of protection.”
Dr. Landers says 13 states and the District of Columbia are connected to the app and the server so far. This could be crucial as the holidays are approaching-- and people are still expected to travel.
Dr. Sue Feldman, a professor with the University of Alabama at Birmingham, says, “Just because you’re going to a state that does not have an exposure notification app, you should still download and use it because you might come into contact with others who are on the national server.”
The app is going to include UAB’s anonymous and encrypted ‘Test Verification Technology’-- that’s thanks to some CARE’S Act funding. It’ll allow Alabamians to get notifications if they are exposed to people from other states who are using similar apps.
About 150,000 people in Alabama have downloaded the app so far. But, only about 350 positive cases have been documented using the app. Experts say, they need more users. Dr. Feldman says, “Only through wide adoption and use can we give ourselves and others the best chance for the app to make a considerable impact.”
The app allows you to anonymously report your COVID-19 test results and anonymously alert others about your potential exposures to COVID-19.
So, you might not think your use of the app could make a big difference. But, Dr. Landers says, it’s crucial in controlling the spread. She adds, “Every case of COVID-19 can infect somewhere between 2 to 3-- to even 5 people. We have to look at this as, it is a ‘win’ when we have a case identified and it is a ‘win’ when we have the ability to notify those persons.”