NY COVID-19 Symptoms Map Released

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Facebook founder and C.E.O. Mark Zuckerberg grew up in Westchester County.

Facebook has just released the first maps of the COVID-19 symptoms people have self-reported to experience. The information is broken down county-by-county across the United States, based on aggregate data from the opt-in Facebook survey that was conducted with researchers at Carnegie Mellon.

“Understanding how COVID-19 is spreading is critical for local governments and public health officials as they allocate scarce resources like ventilators and PPE, and eventually to decide when it is safe to start re-opening different places,” stated Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO at Facebook. “Researchers believe these symptom survey maps can be an important tool in making these decisions.”

Self-reported descriptions of COVID-19-related symptoms, which Carnegie Mellon University researchers are gathering nationwide with the help of Facebook and Google, correlate well with test-confirmed cases of the disease, suggesting self-reports might soon help the researchers in forecasting COVID-19 activity.

Ryan Tibshirani, co-leader of Carnegie Mellon’s Delphi COVID-19 Response Team, said millions of responses to CMU surveys by Facebook and Google users are providing the team with real-time estimates of disease activity at the county level for much of the United States.

“I’m very happy with both the Facebook and Google survey results,” said Tibshirani, associate professor of statistics and machine learning. “They both have exceeded my expectations.” 

Facebook recently started offering an opt-in symptom survey prompt at the top of the homepage for U.S. users. The survey, being run by health researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, asked people if they have symptoms such as fevers, coughing, shortness of breath or loss of smell that are associated with COVID-19. Because experiencing symptoms is a precursor to becoming more seriously ill, this survey can help forecast how many cases hospitals will see in the days ahead and provide an early indicator of where the outbreak is growing and where the curve is being successfully flattened. The survey responses are sent to the researchers and aren’t accessible to Facebook.

“I’ve always believed that helping people come together as a community will help us address our greatest challenges — not just by sharing our experiences and supporting each other in crises but also by working together at scale to solve problems,” Zuckerberg also stated. “The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good. If we use it responsibly, I’m optimistic that data can help the world respond to this health crisis and get us started on the road to recovery.”

Link to the Symptom Survey results for New York results: (This is the initial survey data, but more people will have the option of sharing information to support the larger cause). 

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