Former Instagram Founders Created a COVID-19 Spread Tracker

While some states are continuing their “stay at home” orders, others are considering whether or not to end theirs. But, how can a state figure out when it is safe to end that? The former founders of Instagram have created a solution that can help answer that question – the Rt COVID-19 tracker.

TechCrunch reported that Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the founders of Instagram, have teamed up to launch Rt.Live, an up-to-date tracker of how fast COVID-19 is spreading in each state. TechCrunch stated:

One fascinating feature of the site is the ability to filter by region so you can see how the Western states are doing better at suppressing COVID-19 than those in the South. You can also view states with no shelter-in-place orders to see they’re doing worse on average. The charts could help identify how different political orientations and their subsequent policies translate to infection outcomes.

There is plenty of useful information on the Rt COVID-19 tracker website. The metric being tracked there (Rt) represents the effective reproduction rate of the virus calculated for each locale. It lets Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger estimate how many secondary infections are likely to occur from a single infection in a specific area.

Values over 1.0 mean that we should expect more cases in that area. Values under 1.0 mean we should expect fewer. According to Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, when Rt is below 1.0, the virus will stop spreading.

Those who are interested can view data from 2 weeks ago, last week, and yesterday. At the time I viewed the Rt Covid-19 tracker, the data it showed was interesting. Two weeks ago, almost every state (except for Tennessee and Washington) were in the red (above 1.0). Last week, fewer states were in the red, and the majority were yellow, hovering just above or slightly below 1.0. Only a few states (Indiana, Idaho, Louisiana, and Washington) were in the green, below 1.0.

Yesterday, the data formed a curve that goes from Vermont (green and below 0.5) to Georgia (red and above 1.0). It is also possible to see data for an individual state, by scrolling down the website. The line graphs are color coded so you can see if your state is at 1.0. Some states that have hit 1.0 are starting to go back up (which means the COVID-19 virus is still spreading in that state).