Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the public now understands the importance of social distancing and basic hygiene practices. Moreover, everybody now realises how essential are the services provided by those in the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. In fact, the government and media are calling them heroes for their continued efforts. Therefore, any assistance extended to aid their work is encouraged. Stanford Medicine is working with Apple to release an app that will direct first responders to the closest drive-through testing areas in case they experience any symptoms.

The developers plan to make it available for police officers, paramedics, and firefighters in the initial rollout. As of now, those that are assigned in San Mateo and Santa Clara in California can use it. Once the application has been thoroughly tested and found successful, the team plans to add even more frontline workers such as those in the government, food industry, and grocery stores. Ultimately, the target is to distribute it to those who are connected with essential services.

Stanford Medicine is now offering high-priority COVID-19 testing and a new screening and informational app, built with the support of Apple, for local police, firefighters and paramedics.

— Stanford Medicine (@StanfordMed) April 8, 2020

The process begins with a digital survey that requires users to answer questions that would then be crosschecked with a comprehensive coronavirus database. If the system determines that it could be a possible COVID-19 infection, the personnel will then be instructed to undergo testing. They would then submit the results to their assigned point of contact ("department infection control officer"), which will then set a priority testing schedule with a Stanford Health Care site.

CNBC reports that as of April 1, over 1,000 New York City police officers tested positive for COVID-19. Stanford Department of Medicine chairman Dr. Bob Harrington states "if we have a first responder who has symptoms, it's really important for them to get screened and potentially test it because they're going to be very patient-facing and very community-facing. That's what their jobs are."

Stanford Robotic healthcare
An operating room at the new Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California, USA. Image Credit: STANFORD MEDICINE STANFORD MEDICINE

Health experts have been calling for mass testing to figure out if the government's safety measures are working. Hospitals are reportedly running out of spaces to accommodate COVID-19 patients. Healthcare officials are calling on the government to help with supply and equipment shortages. Apple and Stanford Medicine's first responder app should hopefully do its part to prevent more infections.