Limited testing poses challenges to mapping COVID-19 spread

March 30, 2020 / JESSICA KIM COHEN 

As information continues to emerge about COVID-19, researchers and companies are trying new approaches to map the outbreak.

But how to accurately display and project the spread of the disease has proven difficult, particularly given the limited number of tests available to confirm where cases of COVID-19 actually are.

Getting detailed data into coronavirus hot spots is something the White House has said will help to inform response to the pandemic. The Trump administration is reportedly planning to issue guidelines for how, in concert with expanded testing efforts, governors can categorize counties as high-medium- or low-risk, as part of an effort to ease social distancing measures.

Last week, Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force, referenced disease mapping as a way to better target interventions.

“If we geographically get specific data by ZIP codes and counties, we’ll be able to approach this in a very laser-focused way, making sure that what we’re doing in each of those areas is absolutely appropriate for where they are in their own little bell-shaped curve,” Birx said at a press briefing last Tuesday.


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Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Surgio Health as well as Chief Operating Officer at Ortho Spine Partners. Prior to that, he was the assistant vice president and business unit leader of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust Purchasing Group (HPG).

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