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Smartphone and COVID-19

What do you think the grossest thing you own is? What do you think knows more about you than you know about yourself? The answer to both: your smartphone!

Think about it… it has all of your passwords, all of your credit card info, it knows the weird things you Google, it knows you know you take it with you to the bathroom, it knows you watch the Masked Singer when nobody is around, and your kid has probably wiped boogers on it at some point. EWWWWWW!

You can easily reduce some of the ick factor... CLEAN YOUR PHONE DAILY! Take a disinfectant wipe and give it a good once over. Every day.


The other has become a little trickier in the time of COVID. There are people building apps, services, and systems for COVID-19 contact tracing. In order to gain a better advantage, experts will need to leverage both medical tools and technology to help us manage the coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 health-related apps

Some COVID-19 health-related apps are simple and innocuous, while others are pervasive and invasive. They can access all of your data, including your identity, location, online payment histories, and a number of other things that could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Many experts are building systems that can help notify people of potential exposure which, if done well, can potentially be very useful to supplement manual tracing. It is a delicate balance between using personal devices to monitor exposure that assist public health decision-making and protecting your identity.


What can you do now to protect yourself?

  1. DO NOT download random healthcare-related apps. Apps that solicit you to “see if you have been exposed” or “see if you qualify for a free test” or where the app takes the place of a medical professional expose you and your family to the threat of identity theft.
  2. DO NOT provide your SSN or disclose any other private health information (PHI) to an app. You may need to confirm you identity with your date of birth with a legitimate app the first time you sign in, but they should already have all of your information if they’re legitimate.
  3. DO review all privacy settings for an app and set them in accordance with your personal preference and acceptable risk level. We recommend you DO NOT grant an app access to your location, photos, contacts, payment data, or social media.
  4. DO leverage applications provided by your healthcare teams from TRICARE, USF Health, Moffitt, or others, where you have likely already been seen by a medical professional, that allow you to communicate with your care team or make appointments. When using these apps, DO make sure you have a patient identification number that isn’t your SSN.
  5. DO NOT use unsecured Wi-Fi or public Wi-Fi networks while using healthcare provider applications listed in #4.
What kind of COVID-19 related applications are OK?

What kind of COVID-19 related applications are OK?

  1. Apps that provide screening of symptoms and recommend testing options without entering any PHI. If they can’t tell you from your neighbor, no problem.
  2. Apps from healthcare providers where you are already a patient. See #4 above.
  3. Wellness and mental health support applications that do not require PHI. One of the apps on the attached DoD and VA recommended list may meets your needs.
  4. COVID-19 news or information apps (WHO, UN, CDC)
  5. Apps that help you communicate with loved ones to reduce loneliness or anxiety. Use the Identity Management Smartbook at: this PDF or this link to connect with your loved ones safely!

When we know more about potential effects or vulnerabilities of various applications claiming to help COVID-19 contact tracing, public health, medical, and cyber security experts will recommend one. Recommendations will be based on what data is collected, how it is used, who it will be shared with, and how long it will be kept. Experts at MIT, DARPA, and others are approaching this challenge through PACT: Private Automated Contact Tracing.

Hart, et. al. “Outpacing the Virus: Digital Response to Containing the Spread of COVID-19 while Mitigating Privacy Risks.” Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, COVID-19 Rapid Response Impact Initiative White Paper 5. Link
Cho, et. al. “Contact Tracing Mobile Aps for COVID-19: Privacy Considerations and Related Trade-Offs.” Link
O’Neill, et. al. “A flood of coronavirus apps are tracking us. Now it’s time to keep track of them.” Link
Thanks to the SOCOM and USASOC Surgeons, CDO and J3X-G3X teammates for lending their expertise and information for today’s and all the other messages.

COVID-19 Hope and
wellbeing checklist

During these challenging times, we could all use gentle reminders about what kinds of things we should still be doing each day, and all that we’ve accomplished. “Optimizing performance” probably takes on a different meaning for many people these days. While this list certainly isn’t comprehensive, you can use the tasks on this checklist (or fill in your own) to support a healthy sense of well-being in the midst of adversity and disruption.

Essential tasks:

  • Accountability check-in
  • Medications
  • ___________________

Be physically active for at least 30 minutes:

  • Daily PT
  • Walk outside
  • ___________________

Be mindfully present to:

  • A spiritual practice
  • A sound or song
  • A feeling or emotion
  • ___________________

Virtually connect with someone outside your home:

  • Battle buddy
  • Family
  • Friend
  • ___________________

Food for thought:

  • Prepare a healthy meal
  • Try a new recipe
  • ___________________

Write down one thing you’re grateful for:

  • _______________________

A printable version of this infosheet is available here.

COVID-19 online shopping tips

2020 has certainly been a game changer… if for no other reason than it revealed a lot about what we would really do to get our hands on some toilet paper!

Because of the uncertainty introduced by COVID-19 and social distancing, the way we shop has been upended. Consumers have shifted from bulk-buying to online shopping out of necessity and self-perseverance. We are also seeing a shift in what, when and how we are shopping.

The convenience of looking, finding, buying, and having something appear at your doorstep in 1-3 days is amazing, especially when you’ve got a packed schedule! But lately, have you found yourself acting out memes in real life? Hiding Amazon packages faster than you can account for why you needed them?

The ability to shop online has never been more appreciated, yet maybe we find ourselves questioning our rationale for some of the purchases. Did we really need 12 new books in 1 week? Online shopping can be a lifesaver during COVID-19, but there are definitely pitfalls that can lead to some bad habits.

If you are shopping more than you used to, consider the reasons and then take a look at some of the useful hints below to help you avoid making impulse purchases due to your emotions, boredom, or panic.

Online shopping

Pros to Online Shopping

  • It’s convenient, quick (no lines at checkout!) and exciting
  • Easy to comparison shop
  • Protects you from community that may not be social distancing
  • You don’t have to distract your kids from seeing the candy in the checkout line
  • There is no rush, you can leave items in your cart and think about them

Cons to Online Shopping

  • Can be addictive and lead to buying what you don't need
  • May lead to impulse purchases
  • Inconvenient return processes might lead you to keep things that don’t fit, wasting money
  • Manipulation by marketing influencers that pop up on screen
Online shopping

Here’s a few ideas from one shop-o-holic to another help you slow down and shop with purpose!

If you don't want to fall prey to the dangers of online shopping, you have to engage and activate your brain to slow down the process.

  1. Question yourself. Is the purchase important? Is it going to improve your life in a significant way? Does it help you meet any life goals? Will it simplify your life? Or is it just to make you feel better? Sometimes it helps to ‘sleep on it’ before you decide if that’s what you really want/need to buy. You might do this by adding to your wish list and let it sit there for a few days before you make the purchase.
  2. Delete all digitally-stored credit card numbers. They offer this for your convenience and faster check-outs! Well, yeah, this is another slick marketing trick to help you make those impulse buys. Don’t fall for it! Instead, enter your credit card and billing information each time you make a purchase. The extra time required to take your credit card out of your wallet and manually enter the information will add some mindfulness to the purchase process.
    Take a few minutes now to remove your credit card info from your most frequented sites.
  3. Be aware of online marketing influence. It's no secret that if you so much as whisper near your phone or computer you'll be bombarded with marketing tailored to you via mysterious algorithms. Ok, maybe not whisper, but it sure feels that way!
    1. Influences can appear in the obvious form of sponsored social media posts, or ads served by cookies.
    2. They can also subtly weave their way onto your screen as personalized recommendations on retailers' websites or paid and unpaid posts by influencers. Pop ups happen even when you’re not intending to shop!
    3. There is strong psychological evidence that once someone makes a commitment to a goal – even a goal as simple as I like those new running shoes, it is quite difficult to "undo" that goal. From a marketer's perspective, the goal is to get you to buy as quickly as possible… see step 2 above!
    4. Try to be aware of how online marketing could be influencing you. Every time you agree to terms or conditions on a site, you are likely giving them the advantage by allowing them to collect data on how you and other future customers will react and improve their marketing powers. Remember this next time you find yourself purchasing something you weren’t even looking for when you hoped online.
    5. Be wary of “limited time only” deals with a countdown timer to rush your purchase. Few things outside of concert or sporting event tickets are in such limited demand that you can’t pause before purchasing them.
  4. Divert your attention! If you find yourself shopping online to fill time or feel better, it’s probably time to find a new hobby, preferably not one that requires shopping. Instead try picking up an old project you never finished, read a good book (the libraries all have online material for free), or maybe try going for a walk or meditating when you feel the urge to shop online.
  5. Keep a Budget or a Journal. Another great way to curb some spending is to set a limit on personal shopping and make a list of items that you would allow in this category. Another option is to keep a running journal of you monthly expenditures and determine the amount you may be exceeding in your wants versus needs categories.

COVID-19 Resources for families

As a Military Service Member, you’re trained to face unexpected crisis situations, swiftly adapt to new information and environments, and put the well-being of others above your own. The Consortium for Health and Military Performance (CHAMP) provides resources to Military Service Members and their families in pursuit of those ends.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to remind you that the Human Performance Resources by CHAMP team is here to support you and share information you and your loved ones might find useful to help you cope. Whether you’ve been called up, you’re getting ready to deploy, or you’re just struggling to manage this unfamiliar landscape, we’ve got HOPE* (*Honesty | Optimism | Professionalism | Empathy ) to share with you.

Visit HPRC’s “HOPE for Those on the COVID-19 Frontline” section for resources useful to everyone, especially our Military Service Members coping with the current situation, and use HPRC’s Daily Checklist to keep make sure you’re staying fit in all areas of TFF.

Online shopping


  • Virtually connect with others
  • Embrace quality family time
  • Optimize family resilience


  • Stay active at home
  • Get creative with fitness


  • Practice mindfulness
  • Manage tough emotions
  • Embrace gratitude
  • manage stress


  • Feed your body
  • Fuel your mind
  • Boost immunity


  • Live your values
  • Overcome challenges
  • Be grateful