On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. The NBA suspended the rest of their season. Prime Minister Trudeau announced a billion-dollar Covid-19 pandemic Relief Fund. President Trump suspended all travel into the United States from Europe effective Friday, March 13. The rapid rise and spread of the Coronavirus, officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organization, is a potent reminder of how strong infectious diseases can become.

Covid-19 pandemic Statistics

To date, over 125,000 have been infected, and the global death toll has passed 5,000. However, thanks to a combination of global connectivity and healthcare technologies we are better equipped to handle public health emergencies and contain the spread of the disease. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread, more and more employers are encouraging their employees to work from home. If you’re asked to start working from home, or just want to avoid catching and spreading the virus, here are some things you can do.

Use Online Mental Health Apps or Tele-Medicine

Facetiming doctors isn’t as good as seeing them face-to-face. But if you’re worried about going out, or unsure if you may have the virus, these options might be a great first step.

Install an Air Quality app on your phone

Covid-19 is more dangerous for people with pre-existing respiratory problems. If you or someone you love has any respiratory problems, keeping an eye on the air quality in your home could be hugely beneficial. The app can even check the pollutant levels in other places. If you’re concerned about the app’s results, you might also want to invest in an air purifier for your home.

Download the Zoom app

Zoom, and other apps, allow employees to have virtual meetings. This tech makes possible face-to-face meetings, without being face-to-face. This is great for people confined to their homes. One writer for techcrunch.com has argued that the Covid-19 pandemic may present a chance for a permanent paradigm shift. “Meeting in person and through Zoom both have their own merits, depending on the social norm. Some people are used to thinking that relationships need to be established through face-to-face encounters, but those who don’t hold that view will have fewer meetings.”

Opt for Online Education

You may not be engaging in any formal education right now, but if you are, consider switching to an online forum. There are hundred of valid options. Being stuck at home might be the perfect chance to take that class you’ve been eyeing.

—You might also be interested in this article: The Most Destructive Computer Viruses

Carry a stylus to avoid touching touchscreens

When you’re out and about, you’re likely to encounter touchscreens in a variety of locations (think the grocery store, McDonalds, or the library). Consider carrying a stylus pen with you to eliminate the need to touch the screens that thousands of people have already touched. Stylus pens are an
inexpensive way to avoid germs.

Use Apple or Google Pay

Another easy way to avoid germs is to avoid touching the card reader or cash at your local stores. Rather than touching them, download Apple Pay or Google Pay, then simply wave your phone over the payment terminal. Easy!

Download a grocery delivery app

Many grocery stores (including Walmart, Target, and Costco) now offer grocery delivery. Not only will this save you time and energy, but it will also reduce your exposure to busy public areas, hopefully reducing the spread of the virus.

Use your phone as your public transportation card

If you are working away from home and taking public transportation. it would be wise to avoid touching germ-ridden kiosks. Many large cities will allow you to use your phone as a subway or bus card. Anything to let you avoid touching something that thousands of people have touched, right?

Use the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering Real Time Tracking Map

In response to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University created an “interactive web-based dashboard…to visualize and track reported cases in real-time.” This real time map was developed to give researchers, public health authorities and the general public a user-friendly tool to track the outbreak as it unfolds.

—You might also be interested in this article: Real Time Tracking Map

Be wary of COVID-19 pandemic tracker apps

While the real-time map listed above comes from the reputable Johns Hopkins, there are a half dozen Coronavirus tracker apps on the Apple store that may or may not be reliable. I downloaded each of the apps available. Not only is the reliability of the information questionable, these apps were all loaded with ads. After having one app open for less than 2 minutes, my phone battery had gone down 5%. And it continued going down quicker than normal after closing the app. These developers of these apps are hoping to make a quick buck off of your fear. Use the real-time tracker in your web browser instead.

Coronavirus may be leading the way to futuristic tech to help contain future pandemics

While these technologies won’t be helpful during this outbreak, the novel Coronavirus has cleared the way for a whole host of new AI-technologies. Infrared thermometers, which allow healthcare workers to check their patients’ temperatures without actually touching them, are becoming commonplace in China. But “more futuristic technology powered by artificial intelligence is helping to identify Coronavirus symptoms, find new treatments, and track the spread of the disease.

Robots and the future

”Robots“ are being used to disinfect rooms, communicate with isolated people, take vital information, and deliver medications.” Drones and self-driving vehicles are being used to deliver medication, food, and packages to hospitals and patients. Drones are even being used to spray disinfectant in public places and run surveillance on the citizens in certain areas. Data surveillance companies like Metabiota and BlueDot are being used to track both the initial outbreak and the continued spread of it. These companies have notified high risk groups even before the World Health Organization.

For now, most of this tech has been deployed in China, though it’s worth keeping an eye out for it elsewhere. Like the virus, the deployment of this next-generation tech is bound to spread. While AI and robots aren’t necessarily going to save us, they could help. In the meantime, using old-fashioned methods to stay healthy is likely to be even more helpful. It may not be high-tech, but wash your hands.