A new initiative at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School could provide a new insight into the spread of coronaviruses across the United States. The “Covid Near You” map, developed by researchers from both organizations, asked individuals to self-report any potential COVID-19 symptoms and whether they had been tested, and then mapped the activity for two consecutive weeks.
This is not the first COVID-19 case map in North America, and John Hopkins University, which has previously provided a coronavirus map (using case numbers and numbers provided by the World Health Organization) has also provided a coronavirus resource center map. These are useful resources, but only based on confirmed cases. Now in the United States, test availability is limited, and according to most experts, the map shows far less than the actual rate of transmission.
To complement the testing, a new method of tracking the spread of the virus is needed, and while self-reported symptoms are difficult to use as a reliable indicator of COVID-19 transmission, they are combined with other data to help researchers and medical professionals focus on assessing such “social distance” and so on, to slow down or prevent the effectiveness of proliferation strategies.
Another recent project at Kinsa is the Healthy Weather Map of the United States, which also relies on crowdsourced data to try to provide different perspectives on the potential spread of COVID-19. The map relies on information called body temperature, provided by the smart thermometer hardware records it connects to, which reliably measures one of the most common symptoms in patients with COVID-19.
Overall, self-reported symptoms, geo-location-related temperature data, and confirmed cases provide a more complete picture of where outbreaks occur and how they spread.