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‘Coronavirus Self-Checker’: A CDC Bot Named Clara Aims to Relieve Some Strain on Health Care Providers

2 minute read

Amid increasing demand for coronavirus testing and an inability for health care providers to test everyone who wants a COVID-19 test, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has come up with a bot that acts as a triage system to help assess the severity of cases.

The purpose of the “coronavirus self-checker,” a bot named Clara, is to help those currently in the U.S. “make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care,” the CDC says on its website. It is not, however, intended for “the diagnosis or treatment of disease or other conditions, including COVID-19,” the CDC notes.

The bot guides users through a series of questions, which may include what kinds of symptoms the possibly infected person is displaying, as well as whether they have any pre-existing medical conditions and may have come in contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Depending on the answers, Clara could direct users to seek “urgent medical attention” and “go to the Emergency Department” or “stay home and take care of yourself” and “call your provider if you get worse.”

The bot says it was “made possible through a partnership with the CDC Foundation and is enabled by Microsoft’s Azure platform.”

Medical advice about who should be tested continues to change, typically prioritizing those with the most severe symptoms. Although COVID-19 symptoms can include a fever and a cough, those symptoms alone will not necessarily mean an individual can get tested.

There are more than 26,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of Sunday morning, according to a virus tracker from Johns Hopkins University. Every U.S. state has now reported at least one confirmed case of COVID-19.

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Write to Sanya Mansoor at sanya.mansoor@time.com