Measures taken against COVID-19 have been shown to work. Social distancing, one of the most common COVID-19 precautions, when done properly, can mean hundreds or even thousands of cases prevented. Boston, when the first reported case of COVID-19 came in, waited 53 days to issue a stay at home order. But this was too little too late – by this time there were 663 cases per 100,000 people. Compared to a city like Seattle, who issued the stay at home order only 13 days later, had significantly fewer infected – only 114 cases per 100,000 people.
Sadly, the front lines of COVID-19 are nursing homes – over the course of a week in hard-hit Seattle, COVID-19 cases among long-term care patients surged by an astounding 172%. The Life Care Center of Kirkland in Seattle, Washington was one of the first epicenters of the virus in the U.S. More than two-thirds of the residents tested positive for COVID-19 and, sadly, nearly 40 succumbed to the virus. Across the U.S., more than 2,000 long term care facilities have reported cases of COVID-19. New Jersey alone has nearly 400 of these long term care facilities have been impacted by the outbreak, causing more than 1,500 deaths.
Experts are saying that lack of communication, testing, and data gathering are not letting the virus be tracked as well as it could be. Data is saving lives as it is being used by a number of countries, companies, and governments to help try to spread and stop the spread of COVID-19. Around the world, businesses are working together to develop and use new and emerging technologies to help the virus. The WHO has teamed up with Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and other tech companies to host a coronavirus “hackathon” to help track the spread of COVID-19 and assess real needs. $20 million was committed by The Rockefeller Foundation to the development of better data-science tools for managing and tracking the spread of the virus.
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The amount of data is not the problem, however, but rather selecting what data is useful and relevant is. Knowing the severity of the problem in different areas, finding risk factors, learning how the virus spreads, and environmental and societal context. Solely using general data can skip over crucial details specific to certain small areas.
One company that operates nursing home dashboards may have found a correlation between pulse oxygen levels and early diagnosis of COVID-19. Learn more about how data is being collected with new tech and how it’s being put to use to fight COVID-19 here.