UNL researchers using thermometer data to track how social distancing impacts COVID-19

Published: Jun. 8, 2020 at 6:26 PM CDT
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A team of experts from the University of Nebraska are using data from thermometers to get a better idea of how COVID-19 has impacted Nebraska.

The data comes from Kinsa thermometers.

But when the thermometers detect a high temperature, it sends the data to an online database, Fadi Alsaleem, with UNL's Engineering Department said.

Using that data, Alsaleem and his team have been able to show that fevers in Nebraska spiked in mid-March, about a month before COVID-19 tests started showing cases in the state.

They've also been able to see the impact of social distancing.

"You can see once we start doing social distancing the fevers dropped," Alsaleem said. "You can see that by confirmed cases."

They've even tracked recent data now that restrictions have loosened and are able to predict whether or not that would impact spikes, and use that to encourage people to continue practicing social distancing.

"When you show numbers, people may listen," Alsaleem said.

Alsaleem said they're going to continue to track this data and are hoping its use becomes more widespread. He said they've even requested the governor purchase Kinsa thermometers to distribute to Nebraska citizens.