Facebook maps out coronavirus symptoms across US

The map uses data from a symptom survey run by researchers at Carnegie Mellon.

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The map shows an estimated percentage of people with COVID-19 symptoms, not confirmed cases, Facebook said. 

Facebook/ Screenshot by CNET

Facebook has partnered with health researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to help forecast coronavirus activity across the US. The social media giant on Monday launched a map that shows county-level data on people with COVID-19 symptoms, not confirmed cases, across the US. 

The data comes from a CMU Delphi Research Center survey taken by Facebook users that asks them to self-report COVID-19 symptoms that they or someone in their household have experienced in the last 24 hours. The goal is to help local hospitals, first responders and health officials anticipate things like hospitalizations weeks in advance, according to the CMU researchers. 

In an op-ed published Monday in The Washington Post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social network can help researchers and health authorities get data they need to respond to the virus and plan for a recovery.

"The world has faced pandemics before, but this time we have a new superpower: the ability to gather and share data for good," Zuckerberg said. "If we use it responsibly, I'm optimistic that data can help the world respond to this health crisis and get us started on the road to recovery."

Facebook began showing the CMU Delphi survey -- which asks people if they have symptoms associated with COVID-19 such as fevers, coughing, shortness of breath or loss of smell -- to users earlier this month. Facebook noted on the page for its COVID-19 symptom map that it doesn't "receive, collect or store individual survey responses."

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, has rapidly spread across the globe. The World Health Organization on March 11 declared the outbreak a pandemic. There are now over 2.4 million confirmed cases globally, with more than 759,000 in the US as of Monday.

CMU Delphi is also working with Google on its COVID-19 symptom survey.

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