Apple updates Siri with coronavirus responses

Users of Apple’s Macs, iPhone, iPads, HomePods, Apple Watches, AirPods, and Apple TVs can now ask Siri about COVID-19 coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) as Apple has updated Siri to provide meaningful coronavirus responses. Siri now returns answers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, when asked about the virus.

Siri coronavirus responses
Apple’s Siri

Christina Farr and Kevin Stankiewicz for CNBC:

Apple has updated its voice assistant to provide users with a step-by-step questionnaire if they ask variations of, “Hey Siri, do I have the coronavirus?”

Siri will ask users if they’re exhibiting symptoms of the disease, such as fever, dry cough or shortness of breath. Siri will advise people who say they have extreme or life-threatening symptoms to consider calling 911. If users say their symptoms are not extreme or life threatening, Siri instructs people to stay home and avoid contact with other people. It advises them to contact a medical provider if their condition becomes more severe.

It also providers users with a link in the App Store, where they can download telehealth apps and potentially receive virtual consultation.

MacDailyNews Take: Thank you, Apple!

(Note: Apple TV is limited to a simple text referral to the CDC website, but other Siri-capable devices return more useful information.)

MacDailyNews Note: The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine. The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

The findings affirm the guidance from public health professionals to use precautions similar to those for influenza and other respiratory viruses to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2:

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

More info via the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, here.


  1. And here is where technology breaks down into idiocy. It is not possible to have a real conversation with an algorithm and a whole lot of people will be misled because they have web and app-made jello for brains, and they won’t bother to talk with an actual healthcare professional. The Valley are themselves rapidly becoming a pox in the 21st century.

    1. “Idiocy” how so?
      I just asked Siri ‘is Coronavirus a type of flu?’
      Their algorithm only provides links to official sites with no attempt to say one way or the other. It’s exactly the route to take, it leaves’you’ to make up your own mind. If you don’t like what Siri offers, again you can do your own research.
      What I can tell you is that at our local branch meetings of the Royal National Institution for the Blind, members use Siri all the time. It’s 90% and rising iPhones. I’ve never ever heard a single complaint about Siri from them because it’s an invaluable tool.

      1. You both may be right. My guess is that James was put off by the seriously misleading headline in some articles about this: “Hey Siri, do I have the coronavirus?” Which on its face is ridiculous because Siri shouldn’t attempt to diagnose anything. But Gotcha is right too because in fact, Siri doesn’t try to diagnose. The point of the article is that Siri will recognize questions that ask for a diagnosis, and respond with pointers to official factual information.

        It’s absolutely a good move by Apple. Most of the tech companies I know of are doing their best to proffer sound policies that benefit their customers and employees in this surreal environment. So James is way of base when he says, “The Valley are themselves rapidly becoming a pox in the 21st century.” That’s just vapid codswallop.

        And for my obligatory partisan jab, because it’s MDN after all, please note that Siri doesn’t point to the many irresponsible lies made by the White House about the pandemic being a fake news hoax perpetrated by Democrats, or about the availability of personal protective equipment, or about progress on a vaccine, and on and on. Please don’t listen to the moron in the oval office. Sanity will return, just not soon enough (thanks to that ghoul Senator McConnell).

  2. “Hey Siri, where are some nearby Coronavirus testing centers?”

    Siri lists every nearby entity with the word ‘Center’ in the title.

    Still damn near useless.

    1. Only persons who are not fans of Issac Asimov, Will Smith, Kathryn Bridget Moynahan and, especially, James Cromwell. Stay well and don’t jump out of any tall windows.

  3. Most places in the US, the answer would not help, since the local testing centers either do not exist or only accept patients referred by a physician. Even the daily White House briefing today admitted that testing will for some time be prioritized for those who are ill enough to require inpatient treatment, then for first responders. If resources allow, they might get to people who are showing symptoms that can be treated at home. Testing for all, as promised last week, is unlikely to ever be available.

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