University of Wisconsin rushes COVID-19 app to market

(University of Wisconsin-Madison)

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The University of Wisconsin-Madison on Monday launched new COVID-19 mobile and desktop app called “COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect.” Developed by the university’s Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies, or CHESS, along with government, academic, medical, business and community organizations in the state, the app is designed to provide accurate information, support and resources to Wisconsin residents.

More than 30 faculty, staff and students built the app, all while teaching and attending classes from home during the coronavirus pandemic. The app, the university says, builds on existing CHESS projects to provide resources for other health issues like cancers, substance abuse and chronic medical conditions.

“We compressed months of work into five short weeks in order to get this important tool into the hands of people across the state,” CHESS founder and director David Gustafon said in a press release.

Though many universities provide digital services to aid in response to the pandemic, university leaders claim their new app offers a “unique combination of advantages over others.” The app’s features include an anonymous, moderated chat room, a fact checker — available in English and Spanish — to spot misinformation on social media and guided meditation recordings. It also includes tutorials to teach users how to avoid contracting COVID-19, a “resource center” with statistics about the pandemic and information for domestic abuse victims and additional tools provided by the Wisconsin Department of Health like a screening tool and symptom tracking logs.

The desktop version of the app launched Monday, while the mobile version, the university said, is under review by the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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