FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2020
Contact: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112
LANSING, MICH. In an effort to help safely reengage the economy and allow Michiganders to track potential COVID-19 symptoms, the Michigan departments of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) have collaborated with the University of Michigan School of Public Health and College of Engineering to create the MI Symptoms Web Application.
Designed primarily for employers and employees, the online tool is also available to all Michigan residents. Users enter information daily to help identify symptoms that might be caused by the virus and to make decisions about when to seek appropriate medical care. Local and state public health will also use the collective data to help identify the potential for new outbreaks of the disease.
“MI Symptoms will help Michiganders identify symptoms of the virus early, allowing them to take the appropriate actions for their health and the health of those around them,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “This will also help state and local public health workers connect these individuals to important resources like testing locations and support services. I encourage people to sign up on the app to stop the spread of the virus.”
Some employers may ask or require employees to use MI Symptoms as they return to work to help identify potential cases of COVID-19 before it can spread. It will be especially useful for frontline staff who are more at risk of exposure. And employees will have an objective tool to inform their employer that they should not be coming to work without having to share symptom-specific information. Identifying potential outbreaks and reducing spread will keep all employees safer, especially essential frontline workers.
“As businesses reopen and bring their employees back into the workplace, it’s important that we all do so safely,” said Jeff Donofrio, director of the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. “MI Symptoms is a free tool that employers can use to help track workplace health and keep our economy operating. By using the app and following workplace safety guidelines to limit COVID-19 exposure, businesses can do their part to keep their workers and customers healthy.”
MI Symptoms users enter basic physiological data into the web application daily, such as the presence of fever or other COVID-19 symptoms, providing MDHHS and local public health officials with early identification of COVID-like illness regionally to reduce concentrated outbreaks. U-M and MDHHS are using robust security, along with continuous monitoring services, to protect individual’s private symptom data and other personal information. MI Symptoms does not track users through their phone using Bluetooth or GPS.
In addition, collective or aggregate data from MI Symptoms will add a measure to the MI Safe Start Map dashboard. The recently launched dashboard serves as a central information resource regarding risk phases of the labor shed regions in the state. These regions were identified by the Michigan Economic Recovery Council. Key indicators in the dashboard signify readiness for reopening, as well as provide information regarding the current pandemic situation and trends in a specific geographic area.
“We all know the importance of getting people back to work and the economy moving again. But opening too soon, could put our economy, health and medical system at risk,” said Sharon Kardia, Ph.D, Associate Dean at U-M School of Public Health, who led a team of public health faculty members, and faculty and students from U-M’s College of Engineering in developing this tool. “This collaboration is building online tools to provide up-to-date COVID-19 related information that will help state and local officials make informed decisions regarding community economic re-engagement. MI Symptoms and the MI Safe Start Map integrates real-time data collection and analysis to aid rapid decision-making.”
MI Symptoms and MI Safe Start Map support the state’s “Contain COVID” efforts by linking symptomatic individuals to resources and providing data to plan and evaluate the impact of target, testing and protection efforts as necessary to begin to safely reengage the economy.
Additional benefits of MI Symptoms include: