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Rhode Island rolls out ‘Crush Covid’ app

Governor also announces reopening of child care facilities June 1

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Gov. Gina Raimondo opened her daily briefing today, Tuesday, May 19, with a rundown of data revealing 134 new cases and 26 newly reported deaths. Despite the high number of deaths — the most reported in a single day since the beginning of this outbreak — Department of Health Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott clarified that about half of the deaths occurred over the past 24 hours and the others were deaths that were awaiting test results prior to classification.

Additionally, there are 247 Rhode Islanders currently hospitalized, of which 59 are in intensive care units and 44 are on ventilators.

As the governor asked Rhode Islanders to keep in mind those who have lost loved ones, she also said that these numbers were encouraging, as the overall trend continues to be a decline in new cases, and that testing has been the key to that success.

“Rhode Island is number one in America. We have tested almost 12 percent of the population,” said Gov. Raimondo. “That’s the most per capita of any state.”

“Keep following the rules, keep wearing your masks,” said Gov.  Raimondo. “We can’t change the virus. We can learn how to live with it, though."

New Covid app

“I’m very excited about this announcement,” the governor said. “It’s a tool that can really help Rhode Island.”

Crush Covid RI is a one-stop app for information, symptom monitoring and contact tracing, available in both English and Spanish, at the Apple app store or Google Play.

The governor thanked the team that developed this “homegrown” app, that tells Rhode Islanders where to get resources, including food delivery, a free place to stay if you’re a health care worker struggling to isolate from family, if you’ve had a positive test and have nowhere to go, or need information on where to go for a test, among other things.

It can also replace your contact tracing diary. The app has a feature, a location diary, that will keep a record of anywhere you have been for more than 10 minutes. The governor emphasized that this feature is enabled by the user — it is their choice; it would only be used for contact tracing purposes, if and only if the owner of the app-enabled phone consents.

“I’ve asked you to keep a contact tracing diary,” said the governor. “This app will make that easier. When you open the app, it will ask if you want to enable. It’s your choice. It maps where you have been for 10 minutes or more, and at the end of any day you can pull up your location diary.”

Data is stored locally on your phone only, and it is automatically deleted after 20 days. “It’s not stored in a database, it’s just on your phone, available only to you,” she said.

In the event that a person gets sick, a DOH contact tracer will ask them if they consent to sharing their stored information. If consent is given, the data will be stored by zip code.

Adoption encouraged

The governor and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott both encourage widespread adoption of the app, saying that it will not only keep residents informed and streamline contact tracing, it is a wealth of resources and information.

“It’s all here for you to access,” said the governor. “Knowledge is power, and this is a good way to keep yourself informed of constantly updated news, Department of Health updates, and even view live streamed press conferences.

The governor also noted that the app will be constantly updated, and encouraged feedback from users.

“It is critical if we are going to stay ahead of the virus,” she said. “The app will survey you once a day, to enable you to stay ahead and track symptoms … As soon as we can determine that someone has symptoms, isolate them and quarantine their contacts, the better we can stop the spread of disease.”

“It’s completely your choice. If you don’t want to do it, at least at minimum keep contact tracing diary,” said Gov. Raimondo. “I can’t force anyone to do anything, but I know that if you do, we will be safer.”

Child care centers to open June 1

Gov. Raimondo noted that she plans to reopen the more than 900 childcare centers in Rhode Island on June 1.

“We are trying to respond to people who are saying they can’t reopen their business or go back to work without childcare,” she said. “The state plans to give 50,000 surgical masks to childcare centers, both to keep children and employees safe as well as to give parents confidence that it is safe to return.”

The governor also announced that the serology testing pilot program would be wrapping up at Stop and Shop sites, and the health department will now analyze their findings and determine next steps next week.

She also announced that on Friday she hopes to be able to give guidance on phase 2 reopening plans, which could include salons and in-restaurant dining.

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