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New website visualizes how fast the coronavirus is spreading across each U.S. state

Published Apr 19th, 2020 3:35PM EDT
Coronavirus Update
Image: Anut21ng Photo/Shutterstock

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  • A new website from Instagram’s co-founders illustrates how fast the coronavirus is spreading across each U.S. state.
  • Coronavirus cases in New York and New Jersey appear to have peaked.
  • States without stay-at-home orders are seeing a big increase in coronavirus cases.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger recently unveiled a new website that provides an immersive and accurate look at how fast the coronavirus is spreading or subsiding on a state-by-state basis.

The site is called and uses data from the Covid Tracking Project which boasts that it houses the most complete and up-to-date data regarding coronavirus cases in the country. What makes the website unique is that it doesn’t just provide users with raw Covid-19 data — which can be found anywhere — but rather uses a statistical method to gauge the rate at which the virus is spreading.

The site explains:

The metric being tracked here (Rt) represents the effective reproduction rate of the virus calculated for each locale. It lets us estimate how many secondary infections are likely to occur from a single infection in a specific area. Values over 1.0 mean we should expect more cases in that area, values under 1.0 mean we should expect fewer.

As it stands now, the state where the coronavirus is spreading the fastest is Georgia which has a Rt value of 1.5. The state where the coronavirus appears to be most under control is Vermont which has a Rt value of .33.

What’s particularly promising is that states that were particularly hit hard by the coronavirus, like New York and New Jersey, currently have Rt values under 1. This suggests that the coronavirus in both areas have already peaked.

To this end, New York governor Andrew Cuomo over the weekend said: “If you look at the past three days, you could argue we are past the plateau and starting to descend.”

Notably, the number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York hit a two-week low over the weekend.

All told, 23 states currently have an Rt value at 1 or below while 27 states have an Rt value above 1. So while stay-at-home directives in a number of states are clearly working, states like North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Iowa — which have been slow or reluctant to implement similar orders — are seeing a rise in coronavirus cases.

CNN reports:

Just as cases are starting to plateau in some big cities and along the coasts, the coronavirus is catching fire in rural states across the American heartland, where there has been a small but significant spike this week in cases. Playing out amid these outbreaks is a clash between a frontier culture that values individual freedom and personal responsibility, and the onerous but necessary restrictions to contain a novel biological threat.

Speaking to TechCrunch, Krieger said that they built the website because they believe “the effective infection rate is one of the best ways to understand how COVID is spreading.”

He also said that they were “able to take it from idea to launch in just a few days because of all our history and shared context.”

The website itself is particularly easy to navigate and has a number of useful tools. For instance, it’s easy to see what state-specific Rt values were one week or two weeks prior. This makes it easy to see the extent to which preventative measures are working. Incidentally, 49 states had an Rt value above 1 just two weeks ago.

You can also view Rt data on a regional basis while also exploring Rt data in states that still don’t have shelter in place directives. Speaking of which, the only states which still don’t have shelter in place orders are North and South Dakota, Nebraska, and Arkansas.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.