A couple of weeks ago, The Apopka Voice shared a story about COVID surveillance tech being big for business re-openings, to a variety of social media responses and emoticons. Well guess what? The City of Apopka not only got in line for it, as of yesterday they’re leading the Florida pack, in launching and utilizing it.

On Thursday, May 7, a press conference was held at Apopka City Hall with Stan Van Meter, the CEO of Medek Health, the company who created the app, and several Apopka officials slated for appearance, including Mayor Bryan Nelson, Fire Chief Sean Wylam, and EMS Chief Wil Sanchez.

The purpose? To announce the partnership between the City and Medek Health in launching the first COVID SafePass – an app that tracks a consumer’s health stats, sets telemedicine appointments, finds the nearest testing site, and alerts you if you’ve visited a business where an outbreak occurred.

Whether you, as a potential consumer, are intrigued or worried, here’s how it works:

  1. The consumer downloads the free (for Apopka residents) app and answers a self-assessment questionnaire — a COVID-19 prescreen:
  • Have you traveled outside the US in the last 14 days?
  • Since March 1, 2020 have you worked remotely or at a job site?
  • Are you a first responder or work in a medical field that deals directly with patients?
  • How often have you seen, or do you see friends in person, since March 1, 2020?
  • Do you wear a face mask when you leave the house?

2. If you’re feeling sick or ill, there’s a place you can check off symptoms;

3. Once the questions and symptoms are filled in, you get results: Low / high risk;

4. If your scoring ranks you as low risk of having the virus, or low on the contagious meter, you are good to go. You will be able to share your results proudly with whomever you wish. Flash your digital “pass” for COVID-19, and doors will open for you;

5. If, on the other hand, you are ranked as a higher risk, you get to experience a few more steps of this app’s technology: (a) you’ll be able to make a telemedicine appointment with a doctor right then and there through the app, if you want; or (b) if and when it’s recommended that you go to a testing site – for a COVID-19 test or for antibody testing – the app will find the nearest testing location for you;

6. After you get officially tested for COVID-19, and if it’s determined you have the virus and recommended that you quarantine, there is a way for the app to register your 14 day time away so you can prove you did what you were supposed to do;

7. Additionally, if you get an antibody test and it reveals that you have antibodies – this information can be plugged into the app as well.

All of these results – prescreen answers, symptoms, tests, risk level, quarantines, antibodies – they can all be shown in the app and, if you choose, can be shared with those you trust, in technologically private and HIPAA-happy ways.

“Everyone wants to return to normal, but we can never do this without knowing who is low-risk to spread the disease,” says Van Meter. “Kudos to the city of Apopka and Mayor Nelson for seeing how technology can improve the safety of his community.”

According to the Medek Health press release, the COVID SafePass app will be available to city businesses and residents for free. After a month, as reported by Orlando Political, the employer app will increase to $1 per employee for businesses.

The employer app, which seems of particular interest to Mayor Nelson, will allow businesses to show cumulative COVID information about its workforce to potential customers.

“We want our businesses to have a gold seal, a designation so that consumers know our restaurants, retail and more, are safe and COVID free,” said Mayor Nelson. “As we tried to build this ourselves, we were excited to find Medek up the road providing everything we needed to create our Apopka gold seal.”

What does a business “gold seal” standard of COVID-freedom and safety look like to Nelson?

First it would be voluntary. Businesses can choose to not participate, though he hopes they will, certainly. The more Apopka customers can be put at ease, the better.

Second, there are four criteria that must be checked off for a business to achieve the coveted designation:

  1. Staff and customers must have their temperatures checked daily.

2. All staff and customers must wear a mask.

3. Businesses must have special arrangements for customers and employees who are at higher risk, such as the elderly or those with underlying medical conditions.

4. Businesses who get a gold star designation will be using the COVID SafePass app.

Is there any fine print?

We haven’t seen any yet, though what technology doesn’t have it? But if there was a fine print point or disclaimer to be made, it might have to do with the reality that the whole system is based on honesty and accurate self-reporting. If you’re not one to follow the honor system, or if you’re not likely to trust that others will follow it even if you, of course, will… then you might wonder about the app’s limitations. The reality is that it can only accurately assess risk level and reveal accurate results to the level that the user is honest and accurate in self-reporting and data input.

On the upside, however, the feature of being able to track outbreaks is pretty cool, which can happen if and when users check in – on their app – to the businesses they visit.

Ryan Mezzell with Medek Health explains, “If something happens at that business [you visit] and we find out that someone actually did have COVID there, now we can anonymously get a message in our application that says, ‘Hey, we see you visited that place. We don’t know who you are, but we see you visited that place. You should probably check to see if you need to be screened,'”

This alone could be worth the whole free app if you’ve ever wondered, how will I know?

However you may be feeling about this — intrigued or worried, both or neither — one thing you can know for sure: It’s launching Monday, May 11, and you still have a few days to decide.

Who is Medek Healthcare?

Medek Health is a leader in telemedicine and software design, located in Mt. Dora, Florida, just a stone’s throw from Apopka.

According to their website, it’s healthcare simplified. It’s a telemedicine company that gives access to a network of board certified healthcare providers that can treat and provide prescriptions for hundreds of ailments over the phone. It’s healthcare 24/7/365. They do everything from health care consultations, urgent care, and prescriptions in less than 30 minutes.

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