Emory launches a new online tool for COVID-19 screening

Grady Advanced EMT, Emma Hovis prepares for another patient call. First responders at Grady Hospital are on the frontline of the COVID-19 epidemic and are taking precautions on each call. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM
Grady Advanced EMT, Emma Hovis prepares for another patient call. First responders at Grady Hospital are on the frontline of the COVID-19 epidemic and are taking precautions on each call. JOHN SPINK/JSPINK@AJC.COM

Is it COVID-19, a common cold or seasonal allergies?

And, if it is likely COVID-19, do you need to go to the ER?

Emory doctors have helped to create a new online tool — C19check.com — that allows people to screen themselves for symptoms of the coronavirus and to receive recommendations on what to do next.

The website is a way to self-triage and is designed to help prevent a surge of patients at hospitals and health-care facilities, according to Emory infectious disease expert Dr. Carlos del Rio. He also said this can help people get answers quickly rather than waiting on hold for hours on a helpline.

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Based on the answers to questions about symptoms, age and other medical problems, people are placed into one of three categories: high risk (needs immediate medical attention); intermediate risk (can contact their doctors for guidance about how to best manage their illness); and low risk (can most likely administer self-care or recover at home).

The free tool was designed by Vital software with guidance from Emory.

The site is not a replacement for a health-care provider evaluation, according to Emory doctors.

Meanwhile, Apple also has developed a new website (apple.com/covid19) and app that provides screening for COVID-19 symptoms.

MORE: COMPLETE COVERAGE: Everything you need to know about the coronavirus in Georgia 

A medical worker in protective gear helps a potential COVID-19 patient with paperwork at a Phoebe Putney Health System drive-through testing site in Albany on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. HYOSUB SHIN / HYOSUB.SHIN@AJC.COM
A medical worker in protective gear helps a potential COVID-19 patient with paperwork at a Phoebe Putney Health System drive-through testing site in Albany on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. HYOSUB SHIN / HYOSUB.SHIN@AJC.COM

In a conference call with reporters Monday, del Rio said many people who are suffering from seasonal allergies are concerned they might have COVID-19. He said itchy eyes, scratchy throats and occasional coughs are typical symptoms of seasonal allergies. One distinction between allergies and COVID-19 is you don’t get a fever with allergies. But fever is a telling sign of COVID-19.

Doctors think loss of smell and taste could be an early symptom of the coronavirus, before a person develops a cough, according to information posted on the American Academy of Otolaryngology website.

Every morning, del Rio performs a check on himself. If he doesn’t have an elevated temperature and he can smell his coffee, he said, he considers himself “good to go.”