As the world continues to come to grips with a global pandemic, people are turning to any resource they can for answers. In this case, Amazon and its Alexa voice assistant are stepping up and helping users determine their own risk level for contracting COVID-19 coronavirus. Currently available in the United States, any Alexa-enabled device will do. So how does it work? Let’s take a look at how Amazon is using a very unique way to get the message out.
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In partnership with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, better known as the CDC, Alexa will assess your risk level. Just ask, “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have COVID-19?” You can also ask “Alexa, what do I do if I think I have coronavirus?” These questions or those similarly worded will trigger a set of responses pre-programmed by Amazon’s health team.
First, Alexa will ask a series of questions relating to your travel history. It will also ask what symptoms you are exhibiting as well as the possibility of recent exposure. Depending on how you answer, your risk level and your symptoms, Alexa will pass your answers along to the CDC. Of course, it goes without saying that Alexa is not a substitute for proper medical attention, but it’s comforting to ask.
To give you a sense of how Alexa is arriving at its response, the above questions might be something along the lines of “Do you feel sick?” Alexa might also ask you: “Do you live with someone who has or is believed to have COVID-19?” Separately, Alexa may inquire by asking, “In the last 14 days, have you had close contact within about six feet with someone who has or is believed to have COVID-19?”
If you answer negatively to most or all of the above, Alexa will tell you it’s “unlikely you have the virus.” Alexa won’t stop there, though, as it will then offer you some recommendations on how to reduce exposure. Alexa includes tips on washing your hands, covering coughs, not touching your face and disinfecting frequently-used items.
In the event you are unsure what the symptoms for COVID-19 look like, ask Alexa. Just say “Alexa, what are the symptoms of coronavirus?” Echo Show and Fire TV owners can also ask to be shown official videos from the CDC that offer more helpful tips on proper diagnosis.
Outside the U.S.
As of today, Amazon has yet to bring this feature to countries outside of the United States. However, that does not mean it isn’t doing something internationally. If you are in Japan, Alexa will help you check your risk level at home. Guided by your responses, Alexa will contact the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. Alexa will only make that contact if the system believes your risk level and symptoms match that of coronavirus infection.
Alexa users in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States have one more feature to utilize. As world guidance suggests twenty seconds for proper hand washing, Alexa to the rescue. Just Ask Alexa to sing you a song for twenty seconds. That way you can be sure you spend the proper amount of time with soap and water.
By partnering with the CDC, Alexa is providing a great resource to anyone who might be concerned about exposure or symptoms. While it should never be a substitute for proper medical advice, Alexa is a great way to know whether you need to take immediate action. If you are concerned about the current situation, check out these ways to track coronavirus online.
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