Are You Likely to Get COVID-19 in Dallas? There’s an App for That.
Dallas County residents can now instantly see their susceptibility to COVID-19 using an app developed by the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation. The new technology provides a site-specific live risk assessment with a rating that indicates how susceptible a person is to the virus.
During the pandemic, PCCI provided Dallas County with data on the vulnerability of local populations to COVID-19, linking mobility and health metrics to recent COVID-19 outbreaks to identify the county’s most vulnerable populations. The free MyPCI app makes this data available to everyone and does not require any personal health information. It’s also safe: it doesn’t track cell phone data.
The algorithm is based on the exposure risk assessment on COVID-19 case data from Dallas County Health and Human Services and the density of your neighborhood. If you live in an area with more cases, your score will go up. Every day the score is updated based on cases in your neighborhood so residents can control their risk.
The technology has been informing Parkland patients about their vulnerability and proximity to the virus since April. Providers made appointments virtual when the patient scored a high score on the proximity index, which calculated a patient’s distance from other COVID-19 cases. Data collected by PCCI showed that someone with a higher score was seven times more likely to get COVID-19. “The goal is that through this awareness I can be more alert to the actions I can control,” said Steve Miff, President and CEO of PCCI.
PCCI has partnered with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, which has 61,000 students in 38 schools in the area, to also use the app. The diocese was an early adopter of the technology and released information through the app to give families a clearer picture of their risk. Parents and staff use data to make informed decisions about school and travel. “We’re always innovating. Partnering with PCCI on this initiative is a great opportunity to provide our parents and families with information that will enable us to work with our team to contain the virus, and our employees and students to protect, “said Matt Vereecke, headmaster of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on release.
The data could be aggregated for an entire school or employer, but would require families and employees to share their personal information. The data would be useful for schools looking to get back to study in person or for an office trying to determine when to return to work. According to Miff, PCCI is working with several other school systems and companies to show how the app can influence behavior.
Risk scores should fall as vaccination rates rise, and PCCI officials hope vaccination rates will make their app obsolete in the next six months. “Ultimately, the Proximity Index will be low for everyone as the disease completely subsides,” says Dr. Albert Karam, Director of Data Governance and Analytics at PCCI. “As more people get vaccinated in places, we’ll see more low-risk areas.”
Knowing your own risk continues to be important as more contagious variants spread across the country and state. Southwest UT officials recently expressed concern about the spread of the UK variant in Texas, and public health officials have welcomed the innovation. “We were excited to partner with PCCI during this pandemic so that we can leverage the latest technology and data applications to address COVID-19,” said Dr. Philip Huang, Dallas County’s director of health and human services via publication. “This latest tool is another example of how Dallas County is benefiting from the tremendous resources and partnerships we have here.”
Download the app here.