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Published 4/30/2020
5:07pm

Michigan Launches Automated Online Assistant  to Answer Common COVID-19 Questions

Meet Robin

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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has launched Robin, a new automated online assistant that can help Michiganders easily access the latest and most trusted information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly and there’s a great deal of misinformation online,” said Robert Gordon, MDHHS director. “Robin, our new chatbot, is an easy, interactive way for Michiganders to get their question answered without frustrating wait times. Every moment counts in our fight to increase awareness and education and slow the spread of the virus.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted normal operations for many State of Michigan resources. Robin will provide a centralized, first line of response to common inquiries. This will help reduce confusion and frustration, and make it easier to find answers.

The online assistant will also help to reduce calls to the COVID-19 hotline, which means decreased wait times for those who have more complicated questions and need to speak to a staff person. Since March 14, the COVID-19 hotline team has answered more than 26,000 calls.

How does Robin work?

Developed by IBM, the chatbot interprets user questions and directs the flow of the conversation by providing the most likely and informed response. Robin searches for the information it needs to respond to questions based on the rich database it is built upon. It can also help identify gaps in service and information to more efficiently address needed resources.

For any questions that cannot be answered, Robin will direct users to email COVID19@michigan.gov or call the COVID-19 hotline at 888-535-6136, which is available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Public health and other experts answer health-related questions about COVID-19, and can also direct residents, providers and others to resources in their local communities.

Note that Robin and call center staff cannot provide individual clinical advice or a diagnosis. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are symptomatic, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest urgent care center and ask about COVID-19 testing. Those who are experiencing mild symptoms and believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 can be tested.  

Visit Michigan.gov/Coronavirus to find the nearest testing site.  

Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly.

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Update 4/26/2020

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is now a Saturday Night Live character, after a skit aired on April 25th depicting Michigan's leader delivering a satirical message to the state's residents about staying safe during the state's Coronavirus lockdown.

The body of a six-year-old was found on Friday April 24th in the Huron River.  The boy, along with his father, disappeared during a fishing trip on March 29th.

A man was rescued after his kayak capsized in West Michigan.  It happened Saturday morning, April 25th, at Fennessy Lake, in West Michigan.  The 42 year old man was treated for hypothermia.

SEIU Healthcare Michigan President Andrea Acevedo says she is concerned some nursing homes in Michigan are choosing not to report COVID-19 deaths to employees and the public putting more lives in danger.  The union represents more than 5,000 nursing home workers.

A Grand Haven church is among others in the state to offer a drive-in service as Michigan's stay-at-home order remains in place.  Trinity Reformed Church invited drivers to park in the church's lot on Sunday morning at 10am but required attendees to keep windows up and continue to social distance.

A Republican Michigan lawmaker is apologizing after wearing a face mask in session in Lansing on Friday, April 24th that resembled the Confederate flag.  State Senator Dale Zorn said the mask's design was not a Confederate flag but apologized for his choice of pattern.

Mid-Michigan TV stations will host a town hall with Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday April 30th.  The event will originate at the ABC 12 studios in Flint and will be carried on that station, along with WNEM-TV 5, NBC 25 and FOX 66, from 7 to 8pm.

A person suspected of breaking into vehicles in Gaylord over the weekend has been arrested. Authorities say there may be more victims than those currently known.