New Covid-19 dashboards track virus impact across Texas communities

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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) -As we approach the fall and the typical flu season, keeping an eye on COVID-19 infection rates and hospital capacity may be more important than ever.

To help with that the University of Texas at Austin’s Modeling Consortium has created a new model based on one that was created for the city of Austin to predict how the pandemic is progressing in each area and its impact on local health resource.

The Texas Department of State Health Services divides the state into 22 Trauma Service Area (TSA’s) to track health care and emergency resources for those regions.

UT researchers combined daily hospitalization data provided by DSHS and Texas2036) and anonymized cell phone mobility data (provided by SafeGraph) to estimate the local state of the pandemic in each TSA and to make short-term projections of COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU needs.

“Our dashboards provide this sort of key indicators,” said Lauren Meyers, consortium director. “They take the data to estimate how fast the virus is spreading in our community and we can see through time how our actions have change the rate of spread.”

Researchers pointed out that if the reproduction number, known as R(t), is above 1, meaning that each infected person is likely to infect more than one other person, then the pandemic is probably increasing in that area. If the value is below 1, then the pandemic is probably on the decline.

“Individuals who don’t wind up in a hospital wont be part of the projections we make,” said Spencer Fox, consortium associate director. “However, although we’re only looking at hospitalization, based on the trends we saw during our other surge in June and July, we feel that as infection numbers start to rise, they will eventually lead to hospitalization and we feel that’s a more stable metric.”

Latest projections show that roughly 15 percent of all Texans have been infected.

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