Above: Gov. Gina Raimondo unveils new contact-tracing app for Rhode Island, which she describes as key to reopening the economy during the daily virus update press conference at the Veterans Auditorium. Pool photo: Sandor Bodo / Providence Journal
By Hope McKinney
The number of reported deaths spiked to 532 in Rhode Island Wednesday, with 26 new deaths, most of them from previous days. There were 134 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, for a total 12,951. The number of hospitalizations went up to 247, but the number in intensive care – 59 – and on ventilators – 44 – remain static. You can find all the most recent data on the Dept. of Health’s data dashboard HERE.
At her press conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the roll out of a new phone app called CRUSH COVID RI that is meant to provide residents with resources to deal with the virus.
It’s a one-stop app that includes symptom monitoring, test ordering, updated information, available resources and a personal location diary to help with contact tracing. It can be quickly downloaded through the Apple App Store and the Google Play App Store in English and Spanish.
“If you need food delivery, you can figure out how to get that done on this app,” Raimondo said. “If you’re a healthcare worker and you don’t feel that it’s safe to live in your house, you need to find a free place to live, you can find that on the app. If you have tested positive and you don’t have anywhere to isolate safely, you can find that here on this app.”
The press conferences will begin to be streamed on it, and updates from the Department of Health will be added.
It will let you know where and how to get a test that can be easily ordered and scheduled. Right now, this is done through your primary care physician, at the CVS site in Twin River, or in one of the walk-up sites.
“As the months go on, we’re gonna change the way we do testing,” she said. “Over time, we want it all driven through our healthcare system. Ideally, everyone who wants to get tested or needs to get tested should have a connection to a healthcare provider. So, this app will be constantly updated.”
The app will help you track symptoms by prompting you once a day to take a 10-second survey about how you feel, and whether or not you have any symptoms. The more people who use this part of the app, the easier it will be to locate areas within the state that have a hot spot. The idea is to use data to stay ahead of the virus and be aware of outbreaks before they happen.
The location diary is meant to be a more accessible version of a contact tracing notebook. When you open the app, it will ask if you want to enable this feature. If you allow it, a map will be created of the places you visit for 10 minutes or more. You will be able to pull up your own location diary with all the addresses you went to. It is not a real-time tracking tool. Because it doesn’t contain information about people with whom you interact, Raimondo recommended continuing to use a tracing notebook to note down those people.
This data will only be stored on your phone if you enable it and it is automatically deleted after 20 days, Raimondo said. It will not be stored in any other database.
However, if you get the virus, you will get a call from the Department of Health and the contact tracer will ask you if you will share your location diary. You decide whether or not you want to. If you want DOH to have the information but don’t feel comfortable having them upload it, you can simply read the info off your phone to the DOH representative. If you allow DOH to access the data, it will be stored under an ID number, not your name. It will be exclusively used for contact tracing and no other company will have access to the data, Raimondo said.
The data will be kept by ZIP code, allowing the department to see what the symptoms look like in certain areas to determine if there’s growing hotspots.
“This is completely your choice,” Raimondo said. “No one is ever gonna make you download this app. No one is gonna make you turn on the diary feature. No one is ever gonna make you share the data. I, however, am asking you to do this. These systems only work if everybody uses them.”
Raimondo said the app coming out today is not a final product. There will probably be another version of the app in about a month with more functionality. She encourages residents to provide their feedback at www.Health.RI.gov/CRUSHCOVID to improve the second version.
If you do not have access to a smartphone in order to download the app, Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the department of health, said this can be addressed through the COVID-19 hotline, 401-222-8022.
For people who have Internet access but not smartphone access, www.Health.RI.gov/CRUSHCOVID has links to many resources accessible through the app.
Raimondo also announced the continued move to reopen child care centers on June 1. These settings will be provided with 50,000 surgical masks to ensure safety of the employees and children.
Dr. Alexander-Scott also announced that the testing of 5,000 random Rhode Islanders at local Stop and Shops will wrap up on Friday. The department will analyze these tests – both nasal (diagnostic) and blood (serology) – and hope to be able to provide new information next week and an update on the next steps to be taken in partnership with the state’s COVID-19 Testing and Validation Task Force.
Raimondo plans to address the expiration of the executive order on domestic travel and quarantine on Friday, the day it is due to expire. In addition, she hopes to be able to give some guidance on Phase 2 at this time.
Become a part of a movement – join the EG News community by making a donation today! We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to keeping East Greenwich informed. Use the Donate button below or send a check to EG News, 18 Prospect St., E.G., RI 02818. And, thanks!