Facebook partners with health agencies in Florida to include coronavirus in Local Alerts

Facebook virus
System used during natural disasters will provide notifications on health notices.

Facebook has partnered with public health agencies across the country on a coronavirus alert system. That includes working to distribute information directly from Florida health departments to users.

The technology unroll came the same day the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus threat a pandemic.

“It is important for people to have the right information to keep themselves and their communities safe,” reads an announcement from Facebook. “During this growing crisis, Facebook announced the expansion of the Local Alerts tool to state and local health departments, including in Florida, to get COVID-19 information to citizens when they need it most.”

That will be done through Local Alerts, a tool already in use for law enforcement and first responders to communicate information to communities quickly. The platform has now been opened to health departments, and Facebook officials have worked to get Florida health officials online fast.

“The tool has been used to communicate everything from weather advisories, to road closures, to missing persons and community safety threats,” the Facebook announcement explains.

“Now, the tool can be utilized by state and local health agencies to communicate information relating to COVID-19. Government health agencies should be the source of truth for the American public on COVID-19 information.”

When authorized officials release information through the tool, push notifications will be sent to users from targeted geographical jurisdictions. Facebook is also offering training and resources to ensure agencies get the system up and running as fast as possible.

Facebook remains the most popular online social media platform in the world, with 2.5 billion monthly users at last count. That includes about 180 million in the U.S. alone, according to Statista.

Florida only saw its first positive test for coronavirus on March 1, but to date has seen that number grow to 45, according to the Department of Health. That includes 42 Florida residents, two who have died from the illness. There are also three out-of-state residents who tested positive for the virus here.

Five individuals tested positive outside the U.S. have also been repatriated to Florida.

476 individuals are currently being monitored by public health agencies for coronavirus, with 147 pending test results.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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