Yes, Americans are increasingly weary of the pandemic; just last week, a headline from The Atlantic boldy declared “America is Staring Down Its First So What? Wave,” and from the conversations I’m hearing at my local cigar lounge, that is the absolute truth. Americans are tired of worrying, tired of masking, and tired of talking about it.
But we are also still dealing with COVID-19 in very personal and, sometimes, very painful ways.
The resources we counted on in 2020 and 2021—free tests, free vaccines and plentiful testing and vaccine sites—echo the silence of the general public. Funding has dwindled and temporary testing sites have closed. With fewer people discussing the pandemic, it has become harder to find the resources we still need as we face the now endemic threat—especially if we don’t have primary care physicians on call.
So what do you do when your home COVID test is positive? Or when you need a test, but don’t have one?
On Wednesday, March 30, 2022, the White House launched a new website—with very little fanfare—that will help each of us access COVID-related resources within our own communities. (Perhaps the quiet launch was an echo of our own increasingly silence?)
COVID.gov is a one-stop website for finding all of your local COVID-19 resources.
The website, COVID.gov, was built on GIS and mapping technology from Esri, which allows it to offer a Test-to-Treat locator for every county in the U.S. This tool not only identifies local pharmacies and community health centers providing COVID-19 testing, but also provides a prescription from an affiliated healthcare provider to those who test positive, along with the option to have it filled at an affiliated pharmacy.
I decided to explore the site, and within seconds of searching for my county, I discovered that my area is currently doing well:
I also found a convenient COVID toolkit:
I was surprisingly reassured to know that should I ever test positive for COVID, I could find treatment facilities within minutes.
If I were a local healthcare provider, I could also turn to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Locator, released by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, to find detailed information about available therapeutics to recommend to patients, as well. Knowing that is available to my local clinic’s staff is also reassuring!
Esri’s GIS technology has been critical to the global pandemic response.
Of course, this is not the first time Esri technology has played a central role in the pandemic response; it is used in the Johns Hopkins worldwide COVID-19 map, along with thousands of others. Esri’s COVID-19 GIS Hub provides just a glimpse of the many ways GIS has been mobilized to our defense, from disease tracking and prediction to coordinating state and local data.
“A well-managed health system has the right medications available when and where they are needed. Some may take that for granted. In an ongoing pandemic, however, the need for medications is multiplied and the challenge of connecting people and providers to available therapeutics is greater,” said Esri’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Este Geraghty, who has helped organizations worldwide deploy GIS to fight the pandemic.
“As a result of the Biden administration’s efforts to ensure the American public has the resources they need to identify and address ongoing COVID-19 disease, the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) used geographic information system (GIS) technology from Esri to connect medication types and doses to locations across the United States. Whether you’re a health care provider or an individual concerned about an infection, you’ll be able to access one of ASPR’s apps to find COVID therapeutics near you. Providers can find the locations and numbers of doses available of specific COVID-19 medications in the Therapeutic Distribution Locator application, while individuals can respond quickly when they have symptoms with the Test to Treat locator application to find where testing sites and medications are relative to their location. This is an excellent example of a useful and transparent national data system that responds directly to individual and health system needs.”
So maybe, just maybe, even if you are incredibly tired of thinking about COVID, you could take a few seconds to bookmark COVID.gov now…just in case.