SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert revealed the Healthy Together app on Wednesday, and described it as a new tool for residents to help limit the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus. Although, he acknowledges many people would be hesitant to use it.
“The more Utahns choose to use this application,” the Governor said in a statement, “the more clearly our public health teams will be able to see exactly where, and whom the virus is infecting.”
The app has four features. One helps the user assess their symptoms. Another helps the user find the nearest COVID-19 testing center. People using the app can describe their symptoms and share them with state health officials and learn if they should get tested. Then, using cell phone data, the app can determine where infected people have traveled to paint a better picture of where the virus has been.
However, state officials know people may have more concerns than just the spread of COVID-19. Governor Herbert says the right to privacy is also on the top of their minds.
He says, “For some, we can never get over that hurdle of their concern of ‘Big Brother’ watching their every movement.”
To that end, the governor says they’ve made the app totally voluntary, and no one is required to share their cell phone data or medical information. Plus, the user can delete their information any time they want.
“Location data will automatically be deleted within 30 days. Symptom data will be automatically de-identified in 30 days,” Herbert says.
Should a user decide to give the state of Utah certain information, including location data, the app can help Utah health officials keep better track of where and how COVID-19 coronavirus is spreading. State Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn says they’ll be able to get a lot of good information from the app, even if not a lot of people decide to use it.
“Testing and contact tracing are crucial to any public health response,” Dunn says, “and especially to a pandemic response.”
“I am hopeful this app will provide our hard-working contact tracing teams with even more information to help them do their jobs effectively and efficiently,” she says. “Any individual who chooses to download it, it would be helpful for public health, but of course, we’re leaving it up to the choice of the individual to do that or not.”
The “Healthy Together” telephone app is currently in beta form, meaning software issues may still arise.
The app is free to download.
How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus
COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
- Don’t touch your face.
- Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
- If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
- Get a flu shot.
Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707