Quinnipiac introduces COVID-19 symptom checker app

The university is using the app as a method of early detection for COVID-19

Emily Flamme, News Editor

Quinnipiac University released, “QU Symptom Checker,” on Aug. 31, an app for students, faculty and staff to use daily as another form of prevention against COVID-19 transmission along with social distancing and face coverings. 

The app will help users make informed decisions on what to do if they are experiencing symptoms and includes contact information, key resources and the latest Quinnipiac updates on COVID-19,” according to an email sent to the Quinnipiac community.

In order to use the app, users will log in with their single sign-in from Quinnipiac, and fill out the checklist of 12 symptoms or choose the option that says “no symptoms.”

Photo provided by John Morgan

The app has a built-in algorithm that will guide the user to the appropriate next step after filling out the checklist. 

“Users will be asked if they have any of the following 12 symptoms commonly associated with COVID-19: loss of taste, loss of smell, red/watery eyes, shortness of breath, cough, headache, body aches, sore throat, severe fatigue, fever, vomiting/diarrhea or chills,” according to the email. 

If someone has no symptoms, the message will confirm that the user is cleared to go on to campus that day.

However, if someone reports COVID-19 related symptoms, Student Health Services will call the individual to review their symptoms and decide whether or not testing is necessary.

If a student needs to be tested, the health center will use its form of testing that has a 24-hour turnaround period. While the student waits for their result, they will be placed in one of the designated quarantine rooms to avoid any potential spread of the virus. 

Dr. David Hill, professor of medical sciences and director of the Global Public Health program said the university is working on getting rapid COVID-19 tests that yield results in 30 minutes, so students will be able to stay in the health center while waiting for their results.

However, if a faculty or staff member reports symptoms, they will follow a different protocol. They will be asked to contact their primary healthcare provider and follow its instructions. Faculty and staff will not utilize Quinnipiac testing as it is not part of Connecticut reopening guidelines. 

Hill said although it is not a requirement for faculty and staff to be tested, he is confident there will be minimal transmission as a result.

“We feel it’s the students who are living and congregating together that we feel present the greatest risk,” Hill said. “Faculty will be coming in for a few hours and they’ll be physically distanced and they’ll be wearing face coverings so the chance for transmission in that is very low.”

The app was created with the intention of catching an uptick of spread early on. The information the users put in each day gets compiled into a “dashboard” that Student Health Services and Human Resources can review. 

The people who view the information can see the number of each symptom there are daily and can look at who had those symptoms in order to contact them if necessary. 

Upon downloading the app, students will give their consent for their information to be released, but Hill assured that only Student Health Services employees can access it.

Students, faculty and staff are expected to complete their daily symptom check. If someone does not fill it out often, the university will contact the individual via email. There is no set punishment in place if someone fails to comply, but Student Support Services will likely step in.

Alyssa Crispino, a sophomore in the Entry Level Masters Physician Assistant program, said she hopes all of the students will use the app.

“I know it’s tedious to use every day, but at the end of the day it keeps us safe,” Crispino said. “I hope everyone understands the importance of it. I mean, we all want to stay here.”

Hill said he wants the app to be seen as a way for the community to protect each other.

“I think our whole approach to COVID is to make this participatory and build up some enthusiasm and kind of a group sense that we’re all in this together and we all want to make this work,” Hill said. “Let’s do this for the community, let’s do this for each other.”