Harris County Public Health using app to monitor COVID-19 patients

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- As the county's health department anticipates cases to increase, it is expanding an app that will allow positive patients, or those suspected of having COVID-19, to self-report their symptoms.

In a press conference Friday, Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said Texas is seeing record breaking numbers in new coronavirus cases and deaths.

"Statewide, we added 1,000 new cases, the biggest one day jump in three weeks," she said.

As of Friday afternoon, Harris County combined with the city has reported more than 6,500 cases.

At Harris County Public Health there are a team of epidemiologists who trace active cases, monitor patients and anyone they have come into contact with.

Lead technologist Jerry Miller noticed early on during the pandemic that the case load would overwhelm the staff the department had at the time.

He then helped develop a web app that allows people to self-report their symptoms and for epidemiologist to monitor the patients remotely.

"I come in every day, I open it up and take a look. There have been instances where the epidemiologists look at it and said 'You know, I think I'll reach out to them just in case,'" Miller said. "At this point, it has saved over 1,400 different phone calls that the epidemiologist would have had to make without it."

People can only gain access to the app when Harris County Public Health has identified them as a positive case or someone who was in contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Miller said as Texas reopens they expect to see an increase in the number of cases. This app will help them map out where the most cases are and when people recover.

"We know there's going to be more contacts to be traced," Miller said. "We're enhancing the symptoms because the CDC has new guidelines on symptoms to be monitored and we have some different logic on how we're going to be following people's symptoms in order to clear them when they are done."

For more information visit, Harris County Public Health.
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