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What you should know about COVID-19 exposure notification apps

There will not be a national app for contact tracing. There are many options available now, and it is up to each state and individual to decide which tools best fit their needs. It is up to you to decide if you download an exposure notification app for COVID-19.

Recently several friends on social media posted about settings on their phones for COVID-19 exposure notification. I checked and found it on my phone also. Early in the pandemic I read that this software was being developed for possible use in contact tracing but did not know it was now a reality.

I mentioned it to my computer guru husband Raymond who writes a tech blog Tech Savy Life and he researched and wrote an in-depth post about it. So I’m tapping into his knowledge to share with you.

What is contact tracing?

According to the CDC, contact tracing “helps protect you, your family, and your community” by

  • Letting people know they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and should monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Helping people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 get tested.
  • Asking people to self-isolate if they have COVID-19 or self-quarantine if they are a close contact.

Manual contact tracing done by humans is labor intensive and sometimes inefficient, requiring time on the phone trying to reach people, physically tracking them down, and then depending on their memory of where and with whom they have been. Using technology to do this speeds the process and improves accuracy, making it far more valuable and helpful.

Using case management tools

Local health departments may use digital case management tools to help make the contact tracing process more efficient. If you choose to provide information through one of these tools, your information is secure and stored with the health department. These tools help health departments quickly receive and analyze information about COVID-19.

Case management tools are under the same laws and regulations for all sensitive health information use (e.g. HIPPA). You must provide consent for the health department to collect information using a case management tool. Just like traditional contact tracing, digital tools will not collect information regarding money, Social Security numbers, bank account information, salary information, or credit card numbers.

Using exposure notification tools
a phone screen shot of Settings

from iPhone 11, iOS 13.7

Exposure notification tools may be an app that you can download on your personal cell phone. If you choose to download an exposure notification app for COVID-19, your information is secure.

How exposure notifications work when available

Exposure notification apps are developed in collaboration with or endorsed by health departments. These apps undergo rigorous testing to determine their trustworthiness, security, and ability to protect people’s privacy. Until you give consent to share information with your local health department, any information you have entered into the app is stored only on your personal phone and is not sent to the health department or any other third party. The app and your information can be deleted any time.

Exposure notification on the iPhone 11 iOS 13.7

By clicking Continue, I went to a screen where I entered my country, the United States, and then my state, Oklahoma, where exposure notifications are not currently available.

Privacy and civil liberty issues

Again, according to the CDC,

There will not be a national app for contact tracing. There are many options available now, and it is up to each state and individual to decide which tools best fit their needs. It is up to you to decide if you download an exposure notification app for COVID-19.

Tech Savy Life

Raymond’s article was written before the iOS update, but I recommend you read it for a more detailed explanation of how contact tracing works. And check out some of his other posts while you’re there.

Raymond Oglesby, an Information Technology (IT) specialist with 30 years in the field. I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries and many States. My career was focused on mainframes and desktops from application development to implementation. I have written hundreds of programs for various architectures. I decided to start a blog to share my knowledge and experiences with you.

Contact tracing is coming on your smartphone

man looking at a phone screen

exploring the HEART of health with technology

Even though computers and smart phones aren’t so “smart” sometimes (or maybe it’s just me) I’m glad we can harness the power of technology to help us explore and share the HEART of health. You may enjoy this post about how technology has changed the way we document healthcare for better and for worse.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha 

Featured

Use these 9 strategies to share responsibly on social media

People use fear to motivate and manipulate. Using phrases like “they don’t want you to see this”, “share before they remove it ”, and words like racist, fascist, communist, conspiracy, censored, socialist, control, right, left, etc. imply an urgency that usually isn’t realistic or rational. Sharing verifiable information allows your friends to draw their own conclusions based on fact not fear.

Recently while browsing on  Facebook, I found and enjoyed watching  an inspirational animated video that “won an Academy Award for best animated film.” I don’t know the person who shared it (a public post) but I was curious and decided to research before sharing too.

What I found was a blog post by Chuck Sigars (who I also don’t know) detailing how he researched it and found nothing verifying this claim. I couldn’t either. So I didn’t share the video.

Fact vs. Fiction on Social Media

Now I don’t think the person who shared the video was lying, I think she truly believed it won an Oscar. It was visually appealing and had a heartwarming message about kindness. And many people have shared it, all with the claim “won an Academy Award.” But did it really?

I didn’t share the video because I don’t want to perpetuate what to me and others has become a serious problem on social media-creating, promoting, and/or sharing false information.

The paradox of living in this era is that as easy as it is to spread fiction, it’s almost as easy to disprove it.

Chuck Sigars

The other “pandemic”

This has always been an issue with social media use, but in 2020 it seems to have become another sort of pandemic with posts about coronavirus, lockdowns, public health, the presidential election, riots, protests, racism, etc. Due to the popularity and widespread use of social media sites and personal blogs we have all become “influencers”, like it or not.

Influencer- one who exerts influence: a person who inspires or guides the actions of others

merriam-webster.com

The professional media is often criticized for biased reporting, but we social users are not without fault. We should act as responsibly as we expect them to.

I don’t mean we shouldn’t share opinions or feelings about valid information. Nor am I suggesting we should stifle creative thinking or alternate conclusions drawn from established facts. And by no means am I promoting censorship of unpopular ideas or trampling our Constitutional right to free speech. (Amendment 1).

What I am talking about is responsible use of media, especially social media. (I am mainly addressing Facebook use because I use it the most. But I think these principles apply to the other sites.) Separating valid news reports from opinion, satire, advertising, press releases, and advocacy promotion is hard when friends are sharing them as facts or even “the truth”.

9 possible solutions

I suggest 9 strategies to help us post responsibly and productively. I created these from my own thoughts, observations of posts both good and bad, and from ideas on other blogs and websites.

I’m using genuine examples from posts that I have seen but altered them enough to preserve others’ privacy. I don’t want to shame or embarrass anyone, but I do want to raise awareness so we can all make social media more honest and valuable. I need to observe these as much as anyone, and I hope you and my social media friends and followers will hold me accountable too.

1. Post with purpose

Have a purpose when you share. Is it to inform, entertain, amuse, educate, challenge, ventilate, express opinion? If you don’t know, the reader may not know either. The content should match the purpose.

hands keyboarding

2. Express yourself

Your friends are more interested in what you think than what “a friend of a friend” thinks. Express yourself in your own words, give examples, tell a story, rather than “copied and pasted” or “stole this from a friend”.

I found a handy image meme thing that uses fancy words, giving it the appearance that it uses science to defend my opinion position on a topic… I’m going to post it and use it as my argument to be my voice

a friend’s satirical post

3. Consider the source

Choose your sources wisely when sharing. Blogger Shannon Coleman (ofthe hearth.com) writes

You may love and trust your friends and family members, but it is time to ask some tough questions in regards to what they share.

 If you don’t know the author ,check them out; go to their profile and see how they present themselves. Is this someone you want to be identified with?

4. Confirm the facts-who, when, where

Facts -names, dates, places- can and should be verified. Check it out. If you can’t find it somewhere else on the internet by a reliable source, you should question the accuracy.

Copied & pasted, also not sure how accurate the numbers are, haven’t had time to research and the news started coverage but still good food for thought:

a friend’s post for real

5. Tell us what and why

Why are you sharing this post? Cartoons or cat videos probably don’t need explanation, but narratives do. Tell us why this piece is share-worthy.  Did you learn something from it? Do you find it inspiring or motivating? Did it anger you? If I read it, what benefit can I expect?

Maintain a healthy dose of skepticism. Don’t believe everything you see, read, or hear, even when it corroborates what you already believe. As a child, I was taught to “play Devil’s advocate” and look at the opposite side of my own argument. I think that ability can serve well in these times.

a wise friend

6. Share videos with value

Respect your friends’ valuable time. Inviting them to devote precious minutes to a video that “you have to watch before it’s taken down” is a good way to lose friends if it doesn’t measure up.  

Many videos have a caption that introduces the content. If it doesn’t then you should  compose a succinct paragraph so they’ll know what they’re missing if they choose to pass. (and of course you’ve already done the above source and fact checking before you shared it.)

Here’s how I introduced a video of an interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci about COVID-19.

“Dr. Fauci discusses the “easy six” ways to control the pandemic.”

Dr. Aletha

7. Report numbers and statistics accurately

Numbers should illustrate a story, not be the story. Statistics need context and interpretation. The more complex the math, the more commentary is needed to draw any valid conclusions. Most of us didn’t take enough advanced math courses in school to draw valid conclusions. When someone posts a chart with percentages and calls it “perspective”, be cautious.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, relying on false statistics can have serious consequences if people use them to make health decisions. An  incident with statistics incorrectly attributed to the Alabama Public Health Department illustrates the potential problem.

“It’s certainly not our chart or something we’d put out, It’s similar to charts we’ve seen around for the last five months. It has updated numbers. We’ve seen a lot of people cherry-picking the stats that prove whatever point they want to make. You just hope people realize that there’s a bigger picture.”

Alabama State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris

8. Pause before sharing photos

A photo can tell a story without words; but just like with words, that story can be false. A photo can be fact-checked, by finding the original source and whether it’s been edited or manipulated. Here’s where you can do that.

Google Images
TinEye Reverse Image Search

9. Share facts not fear

People use fear to motivate and manipulate. Using phrases like “they don’t want you to see this”, “share before they remove it ”, and words like racist, fascist, communist, conspiracy, censored, socialist, control, right, left, etc. imply an urgency that usually isn’t realistic or rational. Sharing verifiable information allows your friends to draw their own conclusions based on fact not fear. 

In an article about the proliferation and promulgation of conspiracy theories, Andrew McDonald of Christianity today wrote

conspiracy theories play upon our fear by supplying a more powerful emotion: rage. Fear can so quickly morph into anger because it provides an object: they are to blame, they caused this, they deserve retribution.

Andrew MacDonald
In summary, THINK before you post or share

Words have power, so it matters how we use them. If we make a mistake and share something false, misleading, or inaccurate, then we should correct it. If warranted, delete it, and explain why.  

Harvard School of Public Health recommends we THINK twice before posting or sharing on social media-

  • Is it TRUTHFUL?
  • Is it HELPFUL?
  • Is it INSPIRING?
  • Is it NECESSARY?
  • Is it KIND?

Using Our Online Conversations for Good

If you’re interested in a Christian viewpoint on social media use, consider this book by Daniel Darling, an author and pastor. (this is an affiliate link)

Daniel Darling believes we need an approach that applies biblical wisdom to our engagement with social media, an approach that neither retreats from modern technology nor ignores the harmful ways in which Christians often engage publicly. 

 

Amazon

And in case you’d like to watch it, here is the video that prompted this post, The Ticket Without a Seat– and I still don’t know if it won an Academy Award, but I doubt it. Let me know if you find out otherwise-using the above suggestions, of course.

exploring the HEART of responsible social media use

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

By following, you will get notified of my next post -a list all of the references I used for this post as well as some others.

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

Photos and graphics in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- start free trial and get 4 free credits here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

Please share this post on your social media sites so together we can make the social world safer, friendlier, and trustworthy. Thanks.

                              Dr. Aletha 

How Lilies of the Field challenged the fallacy of racism

That actor went on to have one of the most successful acting careers in history, winning numerous more awards, but more importantly appearing in productions that explored issues of race, discrimination, human rights, and justice.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (In the Old Testament, Solomon was a King, who was the richest man in the world at that time.)

 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Matthew 6, ESV

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

“Lilies of the Field”

Although his acting ability had already won critical acclaim, a young actor made movie history in 1963 in a film based on this Bible text. In Lilies of the Field , he portrayed an itinerant handyman who meets a group of German-speaking nuns living in rural Arizona. After performing a small repair on a roof for them, he naturally asks to be paid. To which the Mother Superior replies,

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin. And yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

(This and other affiliate links are used in this post; a commission may be earned when readers purchase through this links.The affiliate links in this post help me fund this blog to continue providing content and to support projects that share the heart of health.)

That actor went on to have one of the most successful acting careers in history, winning numerous more awards, but more importantly appearing in productions that explored issues of race, discrimination, human rights, and justice.

Sidney Poitier, Best Actor

Sidney Poitier, now 93 years old, won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field. He was the first black man to win the best actor award, and the second black person to win any Academy award. ( Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting Actress for her role in 1939’s Gone with the Wind, making her the first black person to be nominated for and receive an Oscar. In June 2020 HBO planned to add “historical context” to the streaming version of the movie.)

In a post on the website The New Lyceum, Joey Barretta wrote this about the actor.

Sidney Poitier was the first black actor to win the Best Actor Oscar in 1964, the same year that the Civil Rights Act was passed and a year prior to the Voting Rights Act. He rose to be a star at a time in which racism was common and his career began before segregation was abolished. This man is a true hero, albeit one who played some compelling fictional characters setting an example for the fallacy that is racism. By portraying decent men, he set an example of excellence in character that even the prejudiced whites of his day could not ignore.

J. Baretta, March 5, 2018

Some of Mr. Poitier’s other works which delved into social issues include

  • Cry, the Beloved Country-based on the novel about apartheid in South Africa
  • To Sir, With Love-social and racial tensions in an inner city school
  • Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – interracial marriage
  • A Patch of Blue and The Defiant Ones -interracial friendships
  • In the Heat of the Night and They Call Me Mister Tibbs!– racial bias among law enforcement professionals
  • Separate but Equal– portrayal of Thurgood Marshall, future Supreme Court Justice
  • Mandela and deKlerk-portrayal of Nelson Mandela, future President of South Africa
from story to novel to movie

The movie was based on a 1962 novel, The Lilies of the Field , by William Edmund Barrett. He in turn used the true story of the Sisters of Walburga as his inspiration.

Why not read a post I wrote about another novel that used this Bible verse. Here’s an excerpt-

Dr. Saunders is summoned away from his home  to a South Pacific island to attend to a wealthy man who requests his medical care. He boards a small ship with a salty captain and a young man who keeps his reason for travelling a guarded secret.

What was supposed to be a pleasant and uneventful trip to a tropical island, turned into an uncomfortable and shocking adventure when they meet four people whose lives proved more complicated that they initially appeared.  Dr. Saunders and his travelling companions soon find themselves sucked into their intrigue. 

continue reading at

books lined up with titles of classic novels

The Narrow Corner- a classic novel

In The Narrow Corner, Maugham tells a story about Dr. Saunders, an English physician who lives and practices in China. He is quite in demand among wealthy Chinese; we never learn exactly why he left England but the author hints that he was more highly regarded in the Far East than he had been in Britain. 

exploring the HEART of life through literature and media

I’ll hope you’ll watch Lilies of the Field if you’ve never seen it before. And also watch some of Mr. Poitier’s other films, which I think you will find add revealing context to the social justice issues our country is confronting and correcting in the 21st century. Check out this article for some suggestions .

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

Thanks for following this blog. If you’re visiting, I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me. I also want you to find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest , Instagram, and LinkedIn .

                              Dr. Aletha