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Coronavirus US: Thermometer data shows social distancing works

Data from more than one million smart thermometers shows that areas where strict social distancing measures are in place may be slowing the spread of coronavirus.

The maker, Kinsa Health, can’t track the spread of the virus specifically, because it looks only at fevers tied to geographic data. 

But Kinsa’s fever map shows that areas with strict shelter-in-place orders, such as counties in California, are seeing decreasing rates of cases while counties n Florida with less strict orders are seeing increasing rates. 

In the US, there are more than 59,000 confirmed cases across all 50 states and three territories and more than 800 deaths.  

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a fever is one of the most important signs that someone has the virus.

Even Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he constantly gets his temperature taken.

‘Every time I go into a different room, I get my temperature taken,’ he told reporters at the White House over the weekend. 

Prior to using it to track COVID-19, Kinsa’s tool has mostly been used to track where seasonal flu outbreaks are occurring.

To create the map, Kinsa downloaded temperature readings from more than one million thermometers across the US.  

With the coronavirus pandemic a new tool has been added to the map, which the company calls ‘atypical’ illnesses.

Some evidence appears to suggest closing spaces where people commune, such as bars and restaurants, the rate of infections are decreasing. 

‘Given that people aren;t interacting as much, now that I’m staying home, for example, if I’m sick, then people I’m usually around won’t be infected and then they’re not infecting other people,’ Nita Nehru, head of communications at Kinsa, told

‘That’s what we mean by breaking the chain of infections. The less people are not around one another, the more those illnesses drop.’

For example, the map shows that flu-related illness in Santa Clara County has decreased by 13 percent over the last seven days with observed illnesses listed as ‘low’.

This could be because eight days ago, on March 17, Governor Gavin Newsom issued  a shelter-in-place order.

But rates of ‘widespread atypical illness’ in Florida have been increasing, where less strict and aggressive measures have been taken.

It could be due to coronavirus, or even due to H1N1 fu strain. 

‘We can’t say that for sure – we don’t whether it’s coronavirus or something else,’ Nehru said. 

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