There’s no shortage of tech companies willing to help fight the current Covid-19 pandemic. Intel recently set aside $6 million for relief efforts. Google is committing $50 million to relief efforts. Telecoms are waiving data overage and late fees. Among them are companies like Apple that have developed Covid-19 screening tools that anyone can use from home, as long as they have an internet connection.
The tool, which Apple developed in partnership with the CDC, The White House, and FEMA, asks you to answer a series of simple questions about possible symptoms, travel, and anyone you may have come into physical contact with recently. More specifically, it asks you about symptoms that have been associated with Covid-19 like a sore throat, vomiting, and fever, and if you currently suffer from any chronic health conditions like asthma, cirrhosis of the liver, and pregnancy. (Yes, pregnancy is listed as a health condition.)
After I took the test, it told me that I didn’t need to get tested for Covid-19 (yay) and should continue practicing social distancing. But when I took the test for a hypothetical person who was pregnant, has a fever and a sore throat, live in an area where Covid-19 is widespread, and have been near someone who has Covid-19, the tool told them to contact their health care provider. Additionally, it said to isolate from others for at least seven days and monitor their symptoms.
Apple says your answers will not be shared with it or the CDC without your permission, and—of course—it also slaps a big disclaimer on the tool before you start answering questions:
“By using this tool, you agree to its terms and that Apple will not be liable for any harm relating to your use. Recommendations provided by this tool do not constitute medical advice and should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions.”
If you have used this tool and think you might have Covid-19, the best thing you can do is call your doctor (or 911 if you are exhibiting any of the more severe symptoms) and get an actual test.