We’re committed to keeping our readers informed.
We’ve removed our paywall from essential coronavirus news stories. Become a subscriber to support our journalists. Subscribe now.
A fever is one of the first signs of the novel coronavirus that leads to COVID-19. Then come the body aches, dry cough, and trouble breathing.
Eventually, many people infected with the virus will get tested or even hospitalized. That’s when local leaders can start tracking cases and evaluating the efficacy of their response to the outbreak.
One San Francisco company recently figured out a way to get data even sooner. Kinsa Inc., a health technology company that makes internet-connected thermometers, has been tracking the number of fevers across the country, and the data indicate they’re falling nearly everywhere.
Each day, 162,000 people use a Kinsa thermometer to take their temperature. Typically the company uses that data to track the spread of influenza. It recently adapted its software to monitor “atypical fever,” which doesn’t follow typical influenza patterns and is thought to correlate with the surge of COVID-19 cases.
A map of the nation shows that as of Monday the number of fevers in nearly every corner of the country has fallen across the past seven days.
Zooming in on New York State, the epicenter of the outbreak, shows that the number of fever readings are down there too, though not as much as in some other places.
Fevers in Manhattan are down 4.4 percent across the past seven days. Over the same time period, they’re down 4.1 percent in Kings County, 4.9 percent in Queens County, and 4.5 percent in Bronx County.
The maps reveal trends that are days away from showing up in hospitalization data and seem to indicate that social distancing is working.
The trends in Florida show a particularly stark drop in fevers. The state was among the slowest to respond to the coronavirus crisis, with Governor Ron DeSantis relying on a patchwork of local measures rather than imposing statewide orders. On March 20, he finally ordered restaurants and gyms closed, days after shuttering bars and nightclubs. While the daily tallies of new confirmed cases and deaths coming out of Florida is grim — 6,338 cases and 77 deaths as of Tuesday morning — the fever data shows a more promising trend.
Kinsa’s data show that the number of “atypical fevers” in places such as Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties is high, but the rate of fever is down at least 12.8 percent in each county over the last week.