NYS “Tech SWAT” COVID-19 Initiative Includes Assistance from Apple, Microsoft

April 17, 2020
The work falls under the broader ‘COVID Tech SWAT’ initiative, designed to accelerate and amplify the state’s response to COVID-19.

New York State and Apple are partnering to make New York-specific information around COVID-19 available to users in the state through Apple’s COVID-19 screening website and app.

The initiative was announced this week by the Office of Technology Services (ITS). Apple will also offer New York-approved screening guidance from the CDC in an effort to slow the spread of the disease and ensure that healthcare professionals can provide medical help to those individuals who really need it, state officials noted.

Apple is providing the most up-to-date information on Governor Cuomo’s “New York State on Pause” order, as well as the latest news about testing and free mental health resources, they added.

As of April 16, New York City has confirmed more than 7,500 COVID-19-related deaths with nearly 31,000 hospitalizations. These numbers represent by far the most hospitalizations and deaths of any U.S. city. New York State has confirmed nearly 9,000 COVID-19-related deaths.

The collaboration between NYS and Apple is the latest benefit of the recently launched “COVID Tech SWAT” initiative, a volunteer effort where technology companies work alongside ITS professionals to meet growing technology needs during the COVID-19 outbreak. State officials say that some 6,500 volunteers have already helped accelerate and amplify New York’s response to COVID-19.

The “Tech SWAT” initiative was launched on March 24, and under that umbrella, a new self-screening and test scheduling tool was also recently developed with support from Microsoft. The tool helps individuals throughout the state to assess various symptoms and risk factors associated with COVID-19 to better determine whether or not they need a medical test for the virus.

The screening tool includes a series of questions that guides New York State residents through state protocols and interim guidance to help them assess whether or not they should be tested for COVID-19, including demographic information or the type of contact they have had with others who may be exposed. 

For example, users are asked if they are healthcare workers or engaging in other occupations with increased potential exposure to COVID-19, if they have been in direct contact with someone who was exposed, or if they recently traveled or visited a nursing home. It also asks users to identify if they are exhibiting certain symptoms of the virus, such as cough, fever, shortness of breath or other symptoms based on state guidance. It additionally asks if they have other underlying illnesses that could result in a more serious or life-threatening outcome if they contract the illness.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers have already utilized the self-screening and scheduling tool, with future iterations of the platform focusing on improving the user experience and scaling to meet emerging testing needs, officials said.