YOUR HEALTH: Predicting COVID-19 in your town

The newest subvariant strain of COVID-19 is spreading through the United States and is now the cause of most cases.
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 6:02 AM CDT
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ORLANDO, FLA. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - The newest subvariant strain of COVID-19 is spreading through the United States and is now the cause of most cases.

But what if you could predict the spread of the virus down to your hometown? New research may make localized early warnings a reality.

“The reality is that we are learning to live with COVID,” says Ben D. Sawyer, Ph.D., University of Central Florida.

For the past two years, scientists have been using data and computers to predict where the virus will spread next and how many people may get sick. Now, scientists are testing a new method of forecasting COVID-19 that could help cities prepare information that is localized. The method is much like a daily weather forecast.

“If you are looking at the weather, you would not like to know the weather for the United States. You’d like to know the weather for your surrounding area,” Sawyer explains.

The researchers used artificial intelligence to forecast the spread of the disease. Compared with other current methods of forecasting COVID-19, the AI model predicted cases that were closest to the actual numbers.

Scientists say with the machine learning model, local experts anywhere in the world would be able to more accurately predict the number of people who would get sick, the number of hospitalizations, and the number of deaths.

“One of the most useful things we can do is start working on giving people useful tools to understand how the disease will impact their life,” Sawyer says.

As of mid-July, the Centers for Disease Control reported the country’s seven-day average of new cases had ballooned to over 100 thousand new infections a day.

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