As state and local governments scramble to test as many people as possible for the new coronavirus, Boston-area researchers have helped develop an app that allows people to report if they are experiencing symptoms.
The How We Feel app was created by a non-profit organization of scientists, doctors and technologists -- including those from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- to give health professionals up-to-date information and identify potential upcoming hotspots.
“We are generating models to be able to predict the emergence of new infectious hotspots to be able to get finer, more gradual details in terms of where the virus has spread to," app developer Feng Zhang said.
People can download the app for free and report symptoms in about 30 seconds. In what the group is calling a "data donation," users are asked to enter information including age, gender and zip code.
Names, phone numbers or email addresses are not required and users do not need to create a login account.
The data is "securely shared" exclusively with organizations that are "actively working to fight the spread of COVID-19," according to the organization's website. For every submission, the How We Feel Project will donate a meal to people in need through Feeding America for up to 10 million meals.
Health professionals have tested 169,398 people for the coronavirus in Massachusetts, according to state data released Monday, of which 39,643 came back positive. Just over 4 million people had been tested nationwide as of Monday, according to the COVID Tracking Project, representing about 1% of the population.
Experts say testing for the coronavirus would have to at least double -- or even triple -- from its current levels to allow for even a partial reopening of America's economy, NBC News reported last week.
As regions around the country look to reopen, Connecticut is the first state to partner with the makers of the app.
The How We Feel app was developed by a team of scientists, doctors and public health professionals from institutions including the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Weizmann Institute of Science.