Apr 16, 2020 - Health

The EU's coronavirus contact tracing guidelines

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Coronavirus contact tracing apps used in the EU should protect privacy and be compatible enough with one another to track the spread of the virus across borders, the European Commission wrote to its members on Thursday.

Why it matters: Contact tracing — or tracking down those who have interacted with a virus patient and advising them to self-isolate — is seen as a key step, along with widespread testing, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Where it stands: In countries like France, Norway and Poland, Bluetooth is the primary strategy for contact tracing apps, the EU reports. The organization says that contact tracing should not rely on location data.

  • The Czech Republic is piloting using users' locations to build maps of where they have spent significant time within the last five days. The tech is operating in three regions, per the EU.
  • In the U.S., Apple and Google have proposed technology that notifies users if they've come into contact with someone with the virus, without sharing location data with the government.
  • MIT researchers are building a system that matches Bluetooth signals emitted from an infected individual's smartphone over 14 days to other phones, to find who they've come into contact with.

What they're saying: “Mobile apps can warn us of infection risks and support health authorities with contact tracing, which is essential to break transmission chains. We need to be diligent, creative, and flexible in our approaches to opening up our societies again," Stella Kyriakides, the EU health commissioner, said in a Thursday press release.

Background: Large-scale testing, contact tracing, a health system that can withstand new patient surges, and a sustained pattern of lowered infections are all necessary for countries to relax quarantines, the European Commission advised on Wednesday.

  • The ability of competing apps to work together "would allow for a more effective warning of people concerned and a more efficient public health policy follow-up," the Commission said on Wednesday.

Go deeper: Contact tracing is the latest coronavirus red flag

Go deeper

May 31, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country

Protestors rally in Minneapolis. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Health experts fear that massive protests against police brutality in major cities around the United States could result in new coronavirus outbreaks due to the close proximity of demonstrators, AP reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. has already recorded more confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths than any other country in the world. A potential surge in cases stemming from the protests would come as many states are weeks into their phased reopening plans.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

Health experts fear that the protests breaking out across the U.S. could contribute to the spread of the coronavirus.

The state of play: Being outside may limit the danger, but close quarters, yelling, and potential exposure to tear gas, which causes coughing and crying, increase the risk of spread. It's recommended that those who are protesting be tested for the coronavirus.

Updated 9 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 6,226,408 — Total deaths: 373,973 — Total recoveries — 2,672,161Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,799,747 — Total deaths: 104,702 — Total recoveries: 444,758 — Total tested: 16,936,891Map.
  3. Public health: Nearly 26,000 coronavirus deaths in nursing homes have been reported to federal health officials —Coronavirus looms over George Floyd protests across the country.
  4. Federal government: Trump lashes out at governors, calls for National Guard to "dominate" streets.
  5. World: Former FDA commissioner says "this is not the time" to cut ties with WHO.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The virus didn't go away.