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City’s New Chi COVID Coach App Lets You Sign Up For Vaccine Alerts, Testing Information And More

People with COVID-19 symptoms can submit their information, and someone will respond to them with "day-by-day guidance."

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CHICAGO — A new app is allowing Chicagoans to sign up for a coronavirus vaccine, even though public health officials don’t believe one will be ready until next year.

The Chi COVID Coach app allows people who have coronavirus questions — or symptoms — to connect with trained public health employees who can answer questions about symptoms, quarantine, testing locations and more.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Dr. Allison Arwady, Chicago Department of Public Health commissioner, announced the app Monday. User information from the free, web-based resource will only be used by the health department for public health purposes related to COVID-19, Arwady said.

The Department of Public Health has planned out locations where people will get vaccinations and bought supplies like syringes as it prepares for a vaccination campaign. Arwady said that campaign could start in 2021 — and the city can use the app to alert Chicagoans about when and where they can get a vaccine.

“We are already building our plans to vaccinate the whole city of Chicago and working with others across the region on a major plan for this,” Arwady said. “Registering now, I want to be clear, does not put you first in line for a vaccine … [but] when a vaccination becomes available, we’ll be able to hit the ground running.”

The app will be used to help people who are currently sick with coronavirus, as well.

People with COVID-19 symptoms can submit their information on their app, and someone will respond to them with “day-by-day guidance throughout a potential isolation or quarantine period,” the city said. Users will receive advice on how they can isolate at home, keep family members safe and when they should be safe to resume their everyday lives.

The app will also notify users of where COVID-19 testing is available in their area and if antibody testing becomes available.

This is just the first version of the app, Arwady noted. The city hopes to expand it and use it even after the pandemic.

The city is also working with the app’s developers to see if they can use the app for contact tracing in the future. Lightfoot has said Chicago will need widespread contact tracing — along with testing — to start lifting restrictions.

“We’ll be continuing to develop it, refine it and add functionality over the months and, honestly, the years to come,” Arwady said.

The app can be found here.

Block Club Chicago’s coronavirus coverage is free for all readers. Block Club is an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom.

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