Apple’s COVID-19 screening app and website received an update today. The update includes new features like tips for mental health, location-wise health assistance, and bug fixes and performance issues. The app is exclusively for the United States, but the website can be accessed by all.
Right under the ‘Start screening’ tab is the new ‘Choose State’ option. As soon as the user select their state of residence, the app will show the website link to that state’s government health agency, so that users get a more focused help from their local body. In addition, users can also ‘change state’ from the same option to search for government health departments in other states either for themselves, family or friends.
There is also a new ‘Supporting Yourself’ section, under the screening tab. In that section, users will find a variety of helpful tips and suggestions for physical and mental self care, shopping, work strategies, creating an emergency plan, and what should be done in case someone is feeling symptoms of coronavirus.
More importantly, this section also links to the United States government’s website for unemployment. Users can search for ways to seek financial and medical insurance, and termination help if they have lost their job. The United States government website has a dedicated section for COVID-19 related unemployment benefits.
The updated features, in my opinion, are very appropriate to the changing social and economic realities in the United States and around the world due to COVID-19. The necessary lockdown and precautionary measures like social distancing and isolation to contain the spread of the disease have unfortunately lead to the people, especially daily wagers, losing their jobs. The current conditions, collectively, are also effecting the mental health of people.
Restricted mobility by being confined to homes, uncertainty of food and other house hold item’s availability, not being able to see family and friends, seeing the conditions get worse instead of better, and worrying about job security, all have a negative impact on mental well being. Therefore, in such times, to get suggestions to maintain sanity and mental balance are welcomed.
Despite being questioned, recently, by democratic senators over user’s data collection via COVID-19 app and website, Apple has continued to work on providing people the digital help they need in this time. In addition, Apple has been busy providing support by various means: by manufacturing face shields for medical teams, streaming a virtual concert. and creating a $50 million royalty advance fund for small record labels to keep the music industry afloat.