Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have gotten together again, this time to fight the spread of coronavirus pandemic in the United States. They have launched a website to show live data on the rate of spread of COVID-19 from one person to another. Their website RT.live uses data from The COVID Tracking Project, an organisation that collects testing and infection rates, to calculate whether the infection has spread or not in a US state.

RT.live tracks the effective reproduction rate (Rt) of coronavirus separately for all the states, thereby giving an estimate of the number of people who get infected by a single infected person.

“Values over 1.0 mean we should expect more cases in that area, values under 1.0 mean we should expect fewer,” says the website.

The data helps to look at the spread of the virus, which has spread globally, with a more region-specific approach. According to the data, 15 out of 50 states in the US have an Rt less than 1. The data at 4pm IST on April 20 showed that the spread of COVID-19 pandemic is the slowest in the state of Connecticut with its Rt at 0.42. Other states like Vermont, Colorado, and Alabama have also shown that on average, the virus is not growing in the states. The same data shows that the virus is continuing to grow at the fastest pace in North Dakota, South Carolina, and Ohio. New York, the state worst hit in the US by the virus, is still in the red with COVID-19 infected still transmitting it to others after previously keeping the spread in check for more than a week.

“We’re trying to take what is a complex topic and boil it down to a simple number that anyone can view from their home,” Kevin Systrom was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

The website will help understand in real-time the impact of decisions made by authorities regarding easing restrictions or ordering a stricter lockdown.

However, the website also mentions that there are certain limitations with the data. It says that a fast increase in decline in the testing rates will affect the numbers. Also, the delay between the onset of sickness in a person and testing positive is not reflected in these numbers.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger last worked together at Instagram before they left Facebook in September 2018.



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