With COVID-19 spreading through the U.S. like wildfire with hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases and thousands of deaths across the country. Nursing homes are unfortunately some of the hardest hit places anywhere in the country. In Seattle, Washington, the Life Care Center of Kirkland was one of the first U.S. epicenters of the COVID-19 outbreak. More than two thirds of the residents have tested positive for the virus and nearly 40 have died. Across the U.S., more than 2,000 long term care facilities have reported cases of COVID-19 – New Jersey alone, nearly 400 of these facilities have been affected by the outbreak, resulting in more than 1,500 deaths.
Working together and sharing information and data is a way that we can predict where the virus may be heading next and set up defenses to defend that area. Around the world, organizations are teaming up to make efforts at utilizing rising tech and data science to fight the virus. The World Health Organization has partnered up with Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, and other large tech companies to host a coronavirus “hackathon”. $20 million was pledged by the Rockefeller Foundation to the advancement of better data science tools for managing and tracking the spread of the virus. The real challenge isn’t the absence of data, but what data is important and relevant, such as severity, risk factors, and societal and environmental context. Using only macro data and estimating large swaths of area could also be ineffective in some cases – specific areas can have specific variables that may change how the virus spreads. Keeping those who need to know updated is also important – speed is of the essence to save lives. But official sources can take too long to report details. A cholera outbreak in Haiti in 2010 killed 7,000 and infected hundreds of thousands more – official references took weeks to report data, while on Twitter, news of the outbreak spread far faster.
Learn more about new tech to collect new data to help track and stop the spread of COVID-19 in nursing homes here.