ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Monroe County and City of Rochester officials have announced new screening tool to help track coronavirus in the region.
“I’m excited to announce the launch of the ROC COVID symptom tracker and I’m asking all of you to sign up today,” Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said.
“Residents across the region can volunteer to go online and answer a short questions about how you’re feeling each day. The information collected will go into a database and will be used to help detect potential hotspots of the virus early while symptoms are starting to develop.”
Residents can go online at roccovid.org to sign up and log their symptoms. “It will only work if a critical mass of people in Monroe County and across the region sign up and actively participate,” Bello said.
Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza said the data will allow officials to do outreach, educate and see trends. “We will be able to get very important information even at the zip code level. We’re looking for patterns, we’re looking for trends, things as they emerge.”
The county executive said besides the symptoms and health status, the survey will record a range of age and zip code. Recording gender and ethnicity are optional. Addresses will not be recorded and the data will not be used for any other purpose.
“This information is going to be very helpful and certainly it’s balance between our general goal of public health and balancing that with people’s right to privacy, and our goal is not to identify individuals,” Mendoza said.
In terms of the reopening process. Mendoza said the data collected through the survey will helps to see what is the status of the outbreak better than the hospitalization rate does. He said the hospitalization rate shows what was happening a couple days ago, but the symptom tracker will help see the situation in real time. “Our goal with this is to identify what’s happening today and yesterday,” the public health commissioner said.
If large breakouts of symptoms are recorded in real time in a specific area, Mendoza said it will help to know when to turn on the breaks and slow the reopening faster than just measuring the hospitalization rate.
“This is only as good as the data we get into it. The more data we get the better understanding we’ll have of our community.”
Mendoza is asking people to be honest in the recording of their answers.
“We don’t have any way of policing this and that’s not our goal here. Our hope is that people will cooperate and do the right thing because it’s in their and everybody else’s best interest.”
Mendoza added that each email submitted will only be able to fill out the survey once a day. He also said officials are working to make the survey available in Spanish as well.