USM launches COVID contact tracing app for students, staff

USM launches COVID contact tracing app for students, staff

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi launched a university-wide mobile app this week to add to its efforts to control the spread of COVID-19.

The Everbridge app will have many features, including a daily symptom checklist and direct links to Student Health Services at Moffitt Health Center for COVID-19 test scheduling to go along with contact tracing.

All USM students, faculty and staff are encouraged to download the free app in either the Apple or Google Play stores.

University leaders say the information in the app is confidential and secure.

“If people use it, then we will have the ability to potentially move quickly with notifying people that they’ve been in contact with someone who has COVID-19,” USM Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Denny Bubrig said. “Just as with personal records in our health center or financial aid, personal information is treated with care and is never used for anything other than the intended use, which, in this case, is to make sure our campus stays healthy.”

Self-reporting a positive test through the app can help prevent the spread of the virus. If a positive patient was within 15 feet of another person for 15 minutes or longer, that person will be notified that they have been exposed, but only if they use the app.

Everbridge uses Bluetooth technology to make it possible to anonymously link a known-positive app user to another app user they saw soon before getting tested. No identifying information will be given about the positive patient when a person is alerted about their possible exposure.

The app is another tool in USM’s arsenal against COVID-19 following different methods to detect and control the spread.

At the start of the fall semester, USM researchers started analyzing and returning results for coronavirus tests in a university laboratory and producing results within 24 hours. The Student Health Services at Moffitt Health Center also has a 15-minute rapid antigen test in addition to antibody blood tests.

“We’ve been working to develop every resource and every tool that we possibly can think of to help manage and mitigate the impact of COVID-19,” Bubrig said. “The implementation of this app is just another example of a collaborative effort to do that, and now we need members of the campus to work with us in using it.”

Here are the steps USM faculty, staff and students should follow to download and access the app:

  • Search and download “Everbridge” in your phone’s app store (iPhone or Android).
  • Identify USM as your “community” in the app.
  • Enter your USM ID (ex: w123456@usm.edu) and password to sign-in.
  • Opt-in to services in which you wish to participate.

For more information on the University’s COVID-19 response, click here.

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