Vaccines

Arizona launches Covid Watch statewide after successful pilot


After a successful pilot, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced the statewide expansion of the Covid Watch app and public health platform. This comes on the heels of several groundbreaking developments in the state’s effort to stop the spread of COVID-19 and safely reopen — efforts that have been accelerated by critical partnerships with healthcare providers and labs across the state. 

 

WHY NOW? 

With multiple vaccines being administered throughout the nation and the pace of the pandemic slowing down, what now for exposure notifications? Contact tracing strategies, including anonymous exposure notification tools, are most important at the beginning and the end of outbreaks. When there are large numbers of cases, everyone needs to restrict their activity. But when there are few cases, good contact tracing can remove restrictions on most of us, with quarantine targeted just to a few. We will need exposure notification the most during this end game. 

Once most people are vaccinated, we can look forward to a more normal world, with far fewer cases. But vaccination rates are not likely to be high enough across the world to eradicate COVID-19 altogether. Some vaccines show 95% effectiveness in trials, doing a great job in protecting individuals. But immunity can wear off over time, new variants can escape immunity, and some people pass the disease on to others even when they have no symptoms themselves. The Covid Watch app will be a critical component of continuing the little bit of headway we’ve gained in the race against the pandemic. Arizona’s expansion of the app is an important reminder of why we must continue to be vigilant — the positive is that the app makes the process effortless for the end user. All you have to do is download it and turn on Bluetooth. Really. That’s it. 

 

WHY IT MATTERS

Exposure Notification (EN) apps work. They’re faster than traditional contract tracing, are able to catch contacts that the primary person doesn’t know personally, and their privacy protections take shame out of the process. Automated digital solutions are also less prone to break down when there are a lot of cases. Now, we even have direct evidence from the U.K. that notifications are going out to the right people, and have likely averted thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of infections. This is great, but the problem is that not all EN apps are created equal. 

When it comes to COVID-19, every second counts. So even though EN technology works, bureaucracy can slow down the actual notification process, thus lessening the impact they can have on a community. That’s where Arizona is different. 

To support statewide expansion in Arizona, WeHealth has partnered with state and national  laboratories including Sonora Quest Laboratories, Paradigm Labs, and Labcorp, and Doximity, a leader in telehealth, to scale delivery of verification codes to confirm positive test results within the app’s EN system. The new integration with the Covid Watch Arizona app accelerates and streamlines the process of obtaining a verification code, so that ENs are received in time to stop the chain of transmission. 

Through these unique partnerships, residents can generate a test verification code for themselves when they see their positive test results within patient portals, or have one issued by their doctor via Doximity. 

In short, that means immediate results.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

WeHealth’s exposure notification apps, including Covid Watch Arizona,  lead the industry in customized and evidence-based quarantine and testing recommendations that keep a user’s privacy intact. The pièce de résistance of what is being accomplished however lies in the far reaching potential of the technology itself. Today, WeHealth is helping to stop COVID-19. Tomorrow, it will change the way we think about healthcare — forever. 

Together, WeHealth, Arizona, and its partners are helping accelerate positive outcomes so we can save lives and safely reopen. 

 

LOOKING TO THE END OF THE PANDEMIC AND BEYOND 

Even with the end in sight, the circumstances of the pandemic are constantly changing. New strains, new vaccines, and evolving guidelines make for a challenging landscape to navigate. Fortunately, the Covid Watch app is specifically designed to evolve as needs change. New features allow users to leverage the app as a holistic healthcare solution and to-the-minute updates empower them with simple instructions to take the guesswork out of keeping themselves and their loved ones safe. 

Now, for the first time, public health authorities have a powerful tool on citizens’ phones, capable of providing trusted, critical advice at just the time it is needed, in terms that are easy to understand. Technology that will most certainly be useful for fighting endemic COVID-19, but has the potential to radically change healthcare for the better. Imagine an exposure notification app in 2022 that tells you about both SARS-CoV-2 and influenza exposures, and that warns you not to visit your grandfather and to take quarantine leave from your job in a nursing home or hospital. That could potentially save a lot of lives and prevent outbreaks, even if it doesn’t make these viruses go away.

 

Learn more about the Covid Watch Arizona app. 

Read the Arizona Department of Health Services press release. 

Questions, comments? Email contact@wehealth.org 




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