How To Use Clara, The CDC's "Coronavirus Self-Checker" Bot

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So you have a fever and feel pretty crummy, but you don't have any shortness of breath. Should you go to the hospital and get tested for COVID-9? A new automated bot might help clear up some of the confusion. Created by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and Microsoft, Clara is a coronavirus self-checker bot that helps you figure out if you have the type of symptoms that require an immediate trip to the hospital — or if you'd be better off staying at home, instead. That being said, Clara is not intended for self-diagnosis or treatment.

In a statement, Microsoft explained how Clara could help take some pressure off of medical professionals, so that they can focus on people who need immediate treatment. The statement reads:

"Many [public health officials] have expressed great concern about the overwhelming demand COVID-19 is creating on resources such as urgent, emergency and nursing care. In particular, the need to screen patients with any number of cold or flu-like symptoms — to determine who has high enough risk factors to need access to limited medical resources and which people may more safely care for themselves at home — is a bottleneck that threatens to overwhelm health systems coping with the crisis."

The best part about Clara is that you can access the bot from your couch on a phone, laptop, or whatever device you use to go online. All you have to do is head to the CDC's "Testing for COVID-19" page, and select the green rectangle that reads, "Coronavirus Self-Checker." Once you click on that, a little box should pop-up. Meet Clara.

After you agree to the terms and conditions of the bot service, Clara will ask you a number of questions: are you ill, or caring for someone who is ill; where do you live and how old are you; what is your gender; do you have any severe symptoms, as listed by the CDC. At the end of this run-through of questions, you will receive one of two suggestions: seek medical help, or manage your symptoms safely at home.

To be clear, this tool is not meant to dissuade anyone from seeking medical help. When you click on the testing tool, the pop-up reads:

"The purpose of the Coronavirus Self-Checker is to help you make decisions about seeking appropriate medical care. This system is not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of disease or other conditions, including COVID-19. This system is intended only for people who are currently located in the United States."

On the same page where Clara can be found, the CDC also offers an explicit list of "emergency warning signs" for COVID-9:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion or inability to arouse
  • Bluish lips or face

If you display any of these emergency warning signs, the CDC recommends that you seek medical help immediately.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here.