Coronavirus pandemic: Facebook releases interactive map to show those who report COVID-19 symptoms

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Coronavirus pandemic: Facebook releases interactive map to show those who report COVID-19 symptoms
Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center to support ongoing COVID-19 pandemic research.

There are more than an estimated two billion people on Facebook. According to a release, more than a million people responded to survey within the first two weeks.

Those on Facebook are encouraged to take a survey about how they’re feeling and any symptoms they may be experiencing. This survey helps public health researchers track and forecast the spread of COVID-19.

“Facebook is uniquely suited to run these surveys because we serve a global community of billions of people and can do statistically accurate sampling,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post on Monday morning. “We do this in a privacy protective way where only the researchers at Carnegie Mellon see individual survey responses — and Facebook only sees aggregated data.”

The survey from CMU Delphi Research Center asks people to self-report symptoms associated with COVID-19 or the flu that they or anyone in their household has experienced in the last 24 hours.

According to the release:

  • COVID-19 symptoms include a fever and either a cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • Flu symptoms include a fever and either a sore throat or cough.

Facebook reaches large segments of the population allowing for a significant representation of age, gender and state of residence. Every day, a new sample of Facebook users over 18 years old within the United States are invited to participate in the survey. Facebook doesn’t receive, collect or store individual survey responses, and CMU doesn’t learn who took the survey.

This map also shows the estimated percentage of people who may have experienced symptoms based on a 3-day rolling average by Hospital Referral Region.

Hospital Referral Regions (HRRs) represent regional health care provider markets with at least one hospital that conducts specialized medical care, such as major cardiovascular procedures or neurosurgery. HRRs are not associated with specific counties.

The map, seen below, shows an estimated percentage of people with COVID-19 symptoms, not confirmed cases. Facebook uses aggregated public data from a survey conducted by Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center.

Resources: Find all of our coronavirus stories. A free text-messaging service so you can receive the most urgent coronavirus updates on your cellphone. And ask questions. To sign up, subscribe to Alabama Coronavirus Urgent Alerts. A new weekday newsletter is available. You can subscribe here. Also, download the AL.com mobile app where you can receive on-the-go notifications.

Mark Heim is a sports reporter for The Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @Mark_Heim.

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