All around the United States, coronavirus testing facilities have been opening up to give citizens access to safe testing. However, the biggest complaint so far has been that no one can find them, and even if you do know where one is, you first need to find out if you’re eligible for testing, which is posing just as much of a challenge.
Now, Apple is distributing a smart-phone application to any lab, business, or facility that’s offering covid-19 testing. The app requires these places to register their information with Apple Maps so that users can simply open the Maps app on their phone and see a little icon wherever there’s a testing facility; much like how there’s a little gas pump on the map wherever there’s a gas station.
Beyond just giving this app to the facilities, Apple has also made the official template for submission available online for anyone to use and submit. You simply download the template, input the information regarding your local covid-19 testing location, and then send it back using a business email address. After, Apple will then review the application to ensure that a testing site is actually where the application says it to be. Once approved, these locations should begin to appear on Apple Maps represented by a “red medicinal icon.”
Once uploaded, on the actual digital map itself each location should specify whether the testing center is accessible via drive-through, parking lot, or inside an actual building. Each specific facility will also be able to note if they were already an existing lab, or converted into one for covid-19 testing.
As previously mentioned, so far the largest issue with these testing facilities stems from the fact that no one knows how to find them/access them. Even if you know where one is, the procedural details regarding what one should do once at the facility is even more confusing. Most states throughout the US don’t even offer testing unless you’ve called your state’s health department and received approval for being symptomatic enough to get tested; even though many cases are also asymptomatic.
The demand for more testing facilities has also been an ongoing struggle, as many find themselves waiting for hours upon hours for a simple nose swab test, or not able to even find a facility to begin with. So even when individuals feel like they’re exhibiting all of the symptoms for covid-19, they still could be unable to be tested. Apple is also asking these locations to specify whether patients need a doctors approval to get tested so people don’t show up to certain places only to get turned away.
So far, no testing facilities have appeared on Apple Maps, however, it’s just one initiative out of a list of many coming from the company in an attempt to combat this virus. For example, recently Apple and Google partnered up to build a “cross-platform coronavirus-tracking tool” that allows users with either an iOS or Android phone to see if they’ve potentially come in contact with someone who has the virus.
Luckily, more drive-through testing facilities are also beginning to appear throughout the country, as promised by president Trump weeks ago, however, it’s just not happening quickly enough. Walgreens opened 15 drive-through testing centers throughout seven states last week; CVS currently has three and Walmart has two, but all of those facilities are by appointment only. 20 testing facilities that are being “provided” to the public by some of the largest corporations in America is simply not enough to protect 300 million+ Americans. Citizens are doing their part by social distancing, and remaining as hygienic and clean as possible, so it’s time for our healthcare industry and government bodies to show us the same level of dedication and protection.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.