Apple-Google COVID platform rolls out on U.S. campuses

From the Matt Richtel's "Looking to Reopen, Colleges Become Labs for Coronavirus Tests and Tracking Apps" in Sunday's New York Times:

“There’s an analogy to Facebook’s rollout,” said Joanna Masel, a mathematical biologist and professor in the department of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona. “We’re starting on college campuses. It is useful to focus on these communities and on places where there is trust, achieve high uptake and spread from there.”

To that end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have shown interest in Dr. Masel’s pioneering contribution to the contact tracing and exposure app being deployed at the University of Arizona. The app, known as Covid Watch and developed on a platform built by Apple and Google, anonymously tracks students’ movements using Bluetooth technology; those who download the app will be notified if they have been in proximity to someone who has tested positive.

Dr. Masel built in an algorithm that seeks to gauge how infectious a student was at the time contact was made with others — a determination made by looking at when symptoms first appeared. Using that data, the algorithm can calculate how much risk was posed to other students depending on when they were exposed to the infected student and for how long. Students at the highest risk of exposure will be asked to quarantine and get tested.

To grapple with the privacy implications, the university has made use of the app voluntary. The information is kept on personal devices — phones or watches or other Bluetooth-enabled technology — and the users are the ones who would permit a positive test to be shared, with their identities kept secret.

My take: I noticed that Richtel, a Pulitzer winner, led with the poop angle...

Students need only use the bathroom.

At more than 15 dormitories and on-campus apartment buildings, sewage is being tested twice weekly for genetic evidence of virus shed in feces. This provides a kind of early-warning system of an outbreak, limiting the need to test every student for Covid-19. If the disease is found in sewage, individual tests can be administered to identify the source.


  1. Romeo A Esparrago Jr said:
    Prayers for all who attend/work at any educational site during these times, whether it be pre-school to K-12 to higher ed, including those that are my family or my friends.

    August 30, 2020

Leave a Reply