What are the best apps, services and websites for tracking COVID-19?

May 26, 2020 |

greater than 8 minutes

The 2019 novel coronavirus continues to do damage across the globe. Nearly every corner of the earth has reported cases of infections and deaths from this virus, which targets the respiratory tract, causing various ailments, including pneumonia in the most extreme cases. As governments everywhere enforce lockdown and social distancing rules and the health industry grapples to identify and treat cases, the rest of us are nervously watching and waiting for positive news.

Many experts have advised that fear at this time might pose as much danger to humanity as the disease itself. Several conspiracy theories have already sprung up, each more far-fetched than the next. People who can’t get ready access to information about the causes, trajectory and other data about the disease have been anxiously scrambling around for solid facts.

But even in the middle of our greatest crisis since the Second World War, humanity continues to display its indomitable spirit. Every day, heroic stories of frontline workers emerge, and some countries have begun to contain the virus after weeks of unprecedented coordination.

Traditional print and television news outlets daily convey these messages that bring hope amidst a damaging health and economic crisis for nearly every country. They also give daily updates about containment efforts across the globe, particular countries, and regions. Those who wish to know how their province or county is affected can tune in to the local stations while bigger stations also highlight how the virus is progressing globally.

There are various parameters to the disease spread that you may wish to look at. Tests executed, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, deaths — each one represents a different way to look at the spread of COVID-19. Some data tell you how lethal the virus is in a particular geographic boundary; others give you an idea of the scale of government response.

Local news outlets won’t always give you these kinds of raw mathematical data. Moreover, the numbers change every second, so you need a source or sources that are kept updated with the most current information about the outbreak.

With that in mind, we have compiled the following helpful resources that can aid you in getting updated information about the ongoing global pandemic. However, before you go ahead and check them out, you should keep the factors in the following section in mind.

Measuring the Spread of COVID-19

In many ways, COVID-19 statistics are no different from any other statistics about any other illnesses. Numbers of those tested and infected are recorded, along with the number of fatalities before or after treatment. The data can be arranged by region, age, and gender, among other variables.

However, since it’s an ongoing pandemic, collating data for COVID-19 isn’t necessarily as straightforward. Many medical experts have talked of a “literal lag” in data related to the disease. Because current statistics result from actions taken days or even weeks prior, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the realities of the current time. You might have to wait for a few days or a couple of weeks to obtain data that show how the disease progressed today.

Further complicating matters is the non-uniformity of COVID-19 symptoms. While many infected people show the classic symptoms of the disease, a considerable number do not and so might go on infecting others without ever getting tested themselves. Because of this, infection and hospitalization data are naturally skewed. Moreover, even the most up-to-date maps of the virus effectively operate with a delay because it usually takes more than a few days for the effects of social distancing and quarantine measures to become fully visible and trackable.

Moreover, not every infected person is necessarily tested. With resources in most cases stretched to breaking point, people who live alone but show symptoms are encouraged to quarantine at home. Inevitably, many cases go undetected and many people are left untested. Keep this in mind when analysing the data you obtain, irrespective of the source.

Those are about the data. This is about the resources. While many apps and websites provide genuine notifications about the virus spread, others are there to milk your curiosity for money or sell bogus products. Before you go ahead and search for the information you want, make sure your PC is protected with a good anti-malware tool like Auslogics Anti-Malware.

The Best Resources and Symptom Trackers for COVID-19

Governments, public agencies and private organizations have floated initiatives to inform the populace on what is going on regarding the pandemic. Working collectively or going it alone, they have released guides, maps, trackers, statistics, provisions, and other resources in the fight against the virus. Within the scope of this article, websites, services and applications, the latter especially on mobile, have sprung up to inform the public about everything they want and need to know, assist health professionals, and help with the distribution of palliatives.

First off, we’ll talk about the most trustworthy resources to get verifiable, up-to-the-minute reports about how COVID-19 is spreading.

If you want a general overview of how the pandemic has impacted the globe, Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE)’s COVID-19 map is a good place to begin. The institution uses its proprietary software ArcGIS to analyze global data about the pandemic and map it onto an interface that is easy to interact with and simple to understand.

You can view the COVID-19 dashboard on your desktop or mobile device. Whichever platform you select, you are assured of in-depth maps and plotted charts. You can filter the map by location and continent. In the case of countries like the United States, you can even check the number of cases and hospitalizations. And you can arrange all these by date if you want to track the time trajectory of the infection.

The John Hopkins map might be among the simplest tools, but it is also one of the most comprehensive. The map pulls data from 17 sources, including the World Health Organization, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, and several individual governments. However, this means that it relies on these sources for accuracy, which, in the case of government data, might be impacted by testing capability and political considerations.

The Centre for Disease Control provides resources for everyone who wants to find out everything about the infection, treatment, testing, and fatality number of COVID-19 in the United States. It is the main public health agency there, and citizens and everyone else can check national and regional statistics relevant to the pandemic.

The CDC worked with software developers to create useful applications for health professionals to track and curate cases. Kid-friendly apps can be downloaded for children to get an idea of what is happening, and organizations can take advantage of workplace safety tools, health-trackers, and advisories.

The website contains a symptom self-checker for basic individual testing, although it is highlighted that this isn’t a replacement for actual medical tests for the virus. There are also loads of useful guides on various related topics, including how to make a face mask for yourself if you are unable to purchase one.

All these maps, statistics and resources are available on the website for free. Mobile-friendly versions are available through the Android and iOS apps, which can be downloaded from the respective stores on each platform.

In a pandemic, there is bound to be lots of confusion about where to go, whom to contact and which rumours to believe. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website provides authoritative information about where and how you can donate, which news or theories should be believed, and how best to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during the pandemic.

You can access the resources via their website or by downloading the Android or iOS apps on your device.

Non-English readers can access the information on the FEMA website in Spanish. There are walkthroughs on how to contact a representative, request assistance, or file a claim. Those without shelters can find the nearest public shelter or recovery centre through this website as well.

  • The nCoV2019.live Coronavirus Dashboard

It is inevitable that some places will have prepared better for the pandemic than others. While some countries were on high alert since the discovery of the first global case, others joined the contact tracing, testing and isolating party late in the pandemic’s timeline. Statistics will naturally vary.

If you want to get an idea of how the world as a whole is dealing with the novel coronavirus, the nCoV2019.live Coronavirus Dashboard is a fine place to start. It contains a multitude of statistics related to the pandemic, aggregated from multiple official regional and global sources.

You can view the total global infection count, testing and treatment numbers, and daily, weekly or total fatalities from the virus. You can break down the statistic by country, continent and region, depending on the availability of data.

Top Apps for Tracking COVID-19

Apart from government and public resource websites, there are other ways of tracking the novel coronavirus — such as through smartphone applications. Since most people spend more time with their phones, apps provide an easy, mobile way for governments to communicate essential information in dealing with the pandemic.

Governments across the world have already rolled out apps for everything from contact tracing and self-testing to quarantine guidelines and instructions on how best to shelter in place. Mobile messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram are being used to disseminate information and instructions. Even Silicon Valley Apple and Google are collaborating on a contact tracing initiative.

They aim to develop a series of apps for both platforms that will notify the users if they come within 6-feet of either a possible carrier or someone previously infected with COVID-19. That initiative is projected to come to fruition in May and will be disbanded once the virus has been eliminated globally.

In the meantime, many apps already exist to diagnose the disease or get updates. Many of these only really work for cases in one country. Examples are TraceTogether in Singapore and Aarogya Setu in India, both of which use Bluetooth for contact tracing; HaMagen in Israel and NHSX in the UK, which use location tracking; and The Corona DataSpende, an app that was developed by a German smartwatch maker and that uses data about pulse rate, body temperature and sleep patterns to monitor the spread of the virus.

Depending on your country, there should be an app of some kind you can download to monitor how the virus is spreading or get updates from relevant quarters. If you are in the European Union, an official EU coronavirus app should be out in the coming days.

The goal of all these resources and applications is to end the pandemic as quickly as possible. Through regular updates and guidelines, the public learn to protect themselves and prevent the virus from infecting even more people. Statistics give an idea of how many people have recovered and how effective current lockdown and treatment measures are against the virus.

All in all, you should do your part to protect yourself, your loved ones, and anyone nearby, really. Use the resources available to keep up to date and follow safety and prevention guidelines, including abiding by lockdown rules.

At the end of the day, humanity will beat this virus together and these apps and resources will have helped.

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