For Individuals who are being monitored for COVID-19 by Public Health Departments
Sara Alert™ automates the process of public health monitoring and reporting for individuals exposed to or infected with COVID-19. It was developed by public health experts for use by public health departments. Protecting the privacy of your personal health information is at the heart of Sara Alert™.
Information Sara Alert Collects About You
Sara Alert™ is designed to support public health monitoring and collects and temporarily stores the data needed to reach you with periodic reminders, collects periodic reports from you about whether you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection, and delivers your symptom reports to your health department that is requesting this information about you.
- Name and contact information. Sara Alert receives your name and contact information from your health department, which wants to collect periodic reports from you based on your potential exposure to or illness with COVID-19. You may have been contacted by the department and asked to opt in to automated symptom monitoring, or in some jurisdictions, you may have registered yourself with the jurisdiction using a form, a web page, or an automated kiosk. Your contact information may include a phone number and/or email address.
- Your contact information is used solely to provide you with automated reminder messages. These may be text messages, emails, or automated telephone calls. Sara Alert™ does not ever sell this information. Sara Alert™ may temporarily share your contact information with third parties such as telephone carriers for the express purpose of sending you reminders over their networks. Your contact information is never sold or used for any commercial purpose.
- Your contact preferences. You have the opportunity to provide Sara Alert™ with your preferred means of communication. Specifically, the system records your choice of the best time to reach you and whether you prefer to receive text messages, emails, or phone calls. This information is used solely to control when and how the system sends you reminders and is never sold or shared with third parties or used for any commercial purpose.
- Demographic data about you. You or the public health department that seeks to monitor you may provide demographic data. Demographic data may be used by your public health department to ensure appropriate follow-up with you or to inform community needs. This information is used solely by your public health department and is never sold or shared with third parties for commercial uses.
- Your symptom reports. Sara Alert™ will ask you for a daily symptom report during the monitoring period. When you provide this information, your public health department can view reports from Sara Alert™ to keep them informed of your health status. They may reach out to you based on this information with further instructions to help you protect your health and the health of others. This information is used solely by your public health department and is never sold or shared with third parties for commercial uses.
- Your lab report results. Sara Alert™ may store lab report results as provided by you or the public health department that seeks to monitor you. This information is used by your public health department to inform when it may be safe for you to discontinue isolation if you were sick with COVID-19. This information is used solely by your public health department and is never sold or shared with third parties for commercial uses.
- Contact information about your close contacts. Your public health department may seek information about individuals you had close contact with during the time when you may have been infectious. This information is used by your public health department to notify those individuals that they might have been exposed to COVID-19. Public health departments do not disclose the identify of the person who may have exposed a close contact. This information is used solely by your public health department and is never sold or shared with third parties for commercial uses.
Information About Minors (under 18 years old)
Your health department collects information about minor children through their parents or legal guardians. In Sara Alert™, minors are represented as members of households, whose symptom data is reported by a head of household. Data about minors is subject to the same stringent privacy and security controls as all the personal health information processed and stored by Sara Alert™. No information about minors is ever sold or shared with third parties other than your public health department.
Where will my information be stored?
The information that you provide will be stored on the Association of Public Health Laboratories’ Informatics Messaging Services (AIMS) platform. The AIMS platform is a secure, cloud-based platform.
Limited Retention of Information
Sara Alert™ automatically deletes your personally identifiable information at the end of the monitoring period specified by your public health department. The monitoring period may end:
- after a specified time since your last known exposure to a person with COVID-19
- if you have symptoms, after a period of quarantine or isolation.
- at a time that corresponds to some other term specified by your public health department, such as a semester in a school setting.
Sara Alert saves de-identified demographic data, meaning without identifying information such as your name and date of birth, to permit officials at your public health department to analyze data at the community level to assess community needs and trends.
Protecting Your Information
Sara Alert™ includes security features to protect your information from accidental or intentional disclosure to anyone outside the public health department monitoring how you are doing. The system requires two-factor identification of authorized public health users. Information about you is encrypted while it is transmitted and stored.
The data that Sara Alert™ collects and temporarily stores about you is sensitive. COVID-19 is a serious threat to public health and safety, and public health departments have the authority to collect the information about you described in this policy. You may determine your participation in Sara AlertTM in the following ways:
- You may elect not to opt in to Sara Alert™. You may choose not to receive reminders or be enrolled in Sara Alert™ at the time you are first contacted by a public health official or the first time you receive a message from Sara Alert™. In this case, the public health department that seeks to monitor you will contact you and collect symptom information directly from you outside the system.
- If you choose not to participate in Sara Alert, your public health department may contact you to collect symptom information directly from you outside of the Sara Alert™.
How to Contact the Sara Alert™ Privacy Team
If you have questions or concerns about the privacy of your health information in Sara Alert™, you may contact us at the following email: Sara_Alert_Privacy@SaraAlert.org.