STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Alabama health, education officials announce coronavirus contact tracing apps for college students

Credit: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health and The University of Alabama System discussed the state’s contact tracing apps in a news conference Monday morning.

Posted: Aug 3, 2020 10:02 AM
Updated: Aug 3, 2020 4:45 PM

UPDATE: Officials said there are three key components, the Healthcheck app, Exposure Notification app and Event Passport app.

The Healthcheck app is described as a coronavirus assessment tool where users can report symptoms. College students in Alabama are required to use it, officials said during Monday's news conference. UAB says "All higher education, as well as K-12, businesses and organizations, must opt in for students or employees to access and use this tool."

The Exposure Notification app is available to anyone in Alabama with a “.edu” email address to participate in a closed pilot launch. It’s limited to 10,000 users per platform for Apple and Android, or 20,000 in total. It will anonymously alert you if you’ve come in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus. Close contact is considered 6 feet or less of exposure for at least 15 minutes.

The Event Passport app is described as an “assessment tool for meetings, conferences, and events of more than 10 people.” "After completing HealthCheck, an algorithm renders an event passport for presentation at events. Green means an individual is good to attend, while red means you should not attend," UAB said in a statement.

Officials worked with Apple and Google in developing the apps. They said 20,000 people are invited to participate in the Exposure Notification app on Monday.

Right now, the apps are intended for colleges and universities in the state, but officials said the hope is to make them available to the public statewide.

The announcement was made while Dr. Scott Harris, State Health Officer, said he's still watching the number of cases. 

"We continue to be concerned about the numbers overall. We have had an increase in cases in a number of counties as reflected on the risk map you referred to. We have seen a slight decline in the last week. It's fallen by about a percentage point," he said. 

They also discussed coronavirus testing for every college student in Alabama at no cost. Pilot testing has been done in Birmingham since July 26.

It’s planned that more than 200,000 college students will be tested in the next 4 weeks as they return to campuses.

"We have a high degree of confidence we can do this successfully as long as everyone's behavior is in the right manner to be serious about this and for our students to understand that it is vital that they comply with this program because that's the only way they are going to be able to come back to college or the unviersity safely," Dr. Ray Watts, President of the University of Alabama at Birmingham said. 

The UAB Department of Pathology will process tests prior to students’ entry. They are able to process 10,000 to 12,000 tests per day with a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours. 

"While pilots have been conducted in Birmingham and Tuscaloosa since July 26, mandatory GuideSafe™ Entry Testing (formerly Stay Safe Together™ Testing) will begin at 11 additional locations across Alabama tomorrow, Aug. 4. Two additional sites will open in Marion and Talladega on Aug. 10 and Aug. 14, respectively. Students will receive communication directly from testing@guidesafe.org or testing@staysafetogether.org and be directed to a web link to register for a testing location and appointment," UAB said in its statement. 

Students can use the nasal swabs themselves. 

WAAY 31 asked officials if the test could possibly replace the current nasopharyngeal used widely across the state.

"It will help us with such a large scale crucial for us was that we maintained the same sensitivity that we were doing with the nasopharyngeal swab. we went ahead in the lab and validated that indeed we are not going to be losing sensitivity by switching to that. there are a lot of studies showing that it is equally sensitive. that was the only reason we moved to that and that will benefit us we anticipate patients down the road switching to that platform," George Netto, with the UAB Department of Pathology said. 

On Monday, leaders in Madison County said since the test is not widely used currently they had some questions and concerns about it. 

"It is not something that we will work with in the hospital. Obviously, we hold ourselves to quite a high standard, and we can only use things that are approved under the emergency authorization use by the FDA, so I don't have any information on the self administered [tests]," Dr. Pam Hudson, Crestwood Hospital CEO, said.

"I hope that it's not a false sense of security. We don't know what the false positive or false negative rates are, but again it's another method that I think will probably be very successful in the days ahead, but currently we don't really know the success rate of these tests," Dale Strong, Madison County Commission Chairman added. 

State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris said he thinks the new self adminstered test shows a lot of promise. The turnaround time on results is expected to be up to 48 hours. Students need to quarantine until the recieve those results, according to UAB. 

Visit www.guidesafe.org for more information.

FROM EARLIER:

On Monday at 10 a.m., officials with the Alabama Department of Public Health and The University of Alabama System are giving an update about the state’s contact tracing app.

The app is called "GuideSafe.” A news release from the state’s health department describes it as “the uniting platform/brand for ongoing communication about COVID-19 testing, tools and actions, and was developed by a team of experts at UAB to promote a safe entry to higher education campuses and ongoing COVID-19 monitoring for students and the community at large.”

GuideSafe is funded by $30 million from the federal CARES Act.

The following representatives are participating in the news conference:

  • Finis St. John, chancellor of The University of Alabama System
  • Dr. Scott Harris, state health officer, Alabama Department of Public Health
  • Dr. Ray Watts, president of the University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • Dr. Sue Feldman, associate professor of health informatics, UAB School of Health Professions
  • Dr. Selwyn Vickers, dean of the UAB School of Medicine

Huntsville/Redstone
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 72°
Muscle Shoals
Partly Cloudy
73° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 73°
Huntsville/Madison
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 72°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 72°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
71° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 44°
Feels Like: 71°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 522512

Reported Deaths: 10790
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson755371494
Mobile39129799
Madison34124500
Tuscaloosa25408444
Montgomery24059573
Shelby23225242
Baldwin20730302
Lee15638166
Calhoun14358311
Morgan14171273
Etowah13705348
Marshall12012220
Houston10416279
Elmore10024203
Limestone9862148
Cullman9509191
St. Clair9486236
Lauderdale9280233
DeKalb8762183
Talladega8127173
Walker7151276
Autauga6763106
Jackson6762110
Blount6532133
Colbert6236132
Coffee5436113
Dale4781111
Russell431239
Franklin421382
Chilton4130110
Covington4069115
Tallapoosa3922148
Escambia390374
Dallas3528150
Chambers3519122
Clarke347360
Marion3076100
Pike306676
Lawrence296395
Winston273272
Bibb256761
Marengo248561
Geneva246475
Pickens233259
Barbour227155
Hale218675
Butler213268
Fayette209660
Henry188444
Cherokee182744
Randolph177841
Monroe173140
Washington165538
Macon156548
Clay150255
Crenshaw149557
Cleburne147041
Lamar140034
Lowndes137353
Wilcox124727
Bullock122040
Conecuh109728
Perry107726
Sumter103332
Coosa99428
Greene91434
Choctaw58824
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 835842

Reported Deaths: 12081
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby930851587
Davidson88030924
Knox49813624
Hamilton43402485
Rutherford42319420
Williamson27545216
Sumner23492341
Montgomery19623224
Wilson18472229
Out of TN1803295
Unassigned16760132
Sullivan16184287
Blount15180194
Bradley14599147
Washington14177242
Maury13211169
Sevier13166175
Putnam11168173
Madison10789241
Robertson9607130
Anderson8627171
Hamblen8498171
Greene7739152
Tipton7226104
Coffee6831121
Dickson6734109
Cumberland6568127
Carter6468156
Bedford6426129
Gibson6402144
McMinn636597
Roane6191102
Jefferson6073121
Loudon601669
Lawrence580686
Hawkins5781106
Monroe570995
Warren551381
Dyer5361104
Franklin508688
Fayette492178
Obion450296
Cheatham444454
Cocke443798
Rhea431275
Lincoln430663
Marshall411158
Campbell409662
Weakley402862
Giles395399
Henderson372975
Macon358077
Carroll357582
White354868
Hardin349766
Hardeman346464
Lauderdale314444
Henry312475
Marion309946
Claiborne306273
Scott305545
Overton296961
Wayne294334
Hickman280546
McNairy276854
DeKalb275653
Smith274838
Haywood268361
Grainger259149
Trousdale249022
Morgan246039
Fentress238546
Johnson231638
Bledsoe209711
Chester209451
Crockett201048
Polk200024
Unicoi194549
Cannon188931
Union186034
Grundy177933
Humphreys174221
Lake169526
Sequatchie166728
Benton163240
Decatur157338
Lewis155826
Meigs134823
Stewart130828
Jackson129935
Clay109031
Houston108533
Perry105728
Moore100017
Van Buren83421
Pickett75624
Hancock54912

Community Events