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Are You Likely to Get COVID-19 in Dallas? There’s an App for That.

Residents can get a personalized, real-time risk score to guide their behavior as new disease variants spread.

Dallas County residents can now get an instant reading of their vulnerability to COVID-19 using an app developed by the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation. The new technology provides a live, location-specific risk assessment with a score to reflect how vulnerable a person is to the virus.

Throughout the pandemic, PCCI has provided Dallas County with data about the local population’s vulnerability to COVID-19, meshing mobility and health metrics with current COVID-19 outbreaks to map the county’s most vulnerable populations. The free MyPCI app makes that data available to everyone and doesn’t require personal health information. It’s also secure: it does not track mobile phone data.

The algorithm bases your exposure risk score on COVID-19 case data from Dallas County Health and Human Services and your neighborhood’s density. If you live in an area with more cases, your score goes up. Each day, the score will update based on cases in your neighborhood, allowing residents to manage their risk.

Since April, the technology has informed Parkland patients of their vulnerability and proximity to the virus. Providers made appointments virtual if the patient scored high on the proximity index, which calculated a patient’s distance to other COVID-19 cases. Data accumulated by PCCI showed that someone with a higher score was seven times more likely to come down with COVID-19. “The goal is that by having that awareness, I can be more vigilant about the actions that I can control,” says Steve Miff, PCCI president and CEO.

PCCI partnered with the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, which has 61,000 students in 38 schools in the region, to use the app as well. The diocese was an early adopter of the technology, and pushed out information about the app to give families a clearer picture of their risk. Parents and staff are leveraging data to make informed choices about school and travel. “We are always looking to innovate, and partnering with PCCI on this initiative is a great opportunity to empower our parents and families with information that makes then engaged partners with our team in containing the virus and keeping our staff and students safe,” said Matt Vereecke, superintendent of schools at the Catholic Diocese of Dallas via 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 beneficial for schools looking to return to in-person learning or an office trying to determine when they can come back to work. Miff said PCCI is working with several other school systems and businesses to show how the app could inform behavior.

Risk scores should go down as vaccination rates increase, and PCCI leaders hope that vaccination rates will make their app obsolete in the next six months. “Eventually, the proximity index will be low for everybody as the disease completely tails off,” says Dr. Albert Karam, the director of data governance and analytics at PCCI. “As places get more people vaccinated, we will start seeing more low-risk areas.”

Knowing one’s risk continues to be important as more contagious variants spread throughout the country and state. UT Southwestern officials recently expressed concern about the U.K. variant’s spread in Texas, and public health officials have embraced the innovation. “We have been pleased throughout this pandemic to be partnering with PCCI so that we can use their cutting-edge technology and data applications to address COVID-19,” said Dr. Philip Huang, the director of health and human services for Dallas County via release. “This latest tool is another example of how Dallas County benefits from the tremendous resources and partnerships we have here.”

The app is web-based so that residents don’t have to access the app store, improving access to everyone. It can be accessed here.

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