March 26, 2020
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will launch a new system to track the spread of COVID-19 in the country — bolstered by the $2 trillion relief bill passed by the Senate this week, according to a new report.
The bipartisan emergency stimulus bill sets aside at least $500 million for modernization of the CDC’s public health data surveillance and analytics infrastructure, Business Insider reported.
The agency must report on the development of a “surveillance and data collection system” within the next 30 days, according to the report.
The exact nature of that surveillance system is unclear, but the federal government has reportedly expressed interest in aggregating data drawn from tech platforms and smartphone use to monitor the spread, the outlet reported.
Other countries, including China — the original epicenter of the outbreak — have already utilized modern technology to monitor citizens’ potential exposure to the virus, according to the report.
The country rolled out a mandatory smartphone app that asks people questions about their level of exposure to people with symptoms — and automatically orders certain users to quarantine themselves.
An app in Singapore uses Bluetooth to detect users’ proximity to individuals who have been exposed to COVID-19 and urges anyone in close contact to get tested, according to the report.
Such a system, if implemented in the US, would speed up testing for those most at risk for the deadly bug, the outlet reported. The country currently lags behind most other developed countries when it comes to testing.
The app, if launched here, would need to comply with privacy laws like HIPAA, which prevents the sharing of personal health information between hospitals, the government and third parties.
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