New COVID-19 tracker launched by Instagram founders

Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom, the founders of Instagram, have launched Rt.live, a new solution for tracking the spread of COVID-19.

The idea is to measure an average number of people that an infected individual spreads the virus to in a given US state.

Higher numbers indicate that the virus is spreading fast.

For example, California seems to be lingering at around 1, while Vermont is at 0,33 (the lowest score among the recently recorded).

According to Krieger, Systrom was making these calculations even before Rt.live was launched, and this is an attempt to visualise the findings.

Each state faces a complex question of whether to open back up or not, and Krieger hopes that tools such as Rt.live will be of great use when it comes to managing the infection rate.

Even a small difference in policies can have a significant effect on the spread of the virus, and tools such as these make things more transparent and easier to see.

In turn, it could be easier to convince people that staying inside is the best course of action.

When transmission rates become less prominent in certain regions, some businesses could be reactivated.

However, if virality starts increasing once again, it is important to react to it and reinstate the social distancing measures if needed.

Rt.live allows the results to be filtered by region.

States in the West currently appear to be doing a better job at suppressing COVID-19 compared to those in the South.

The tool makes it easy to see how states with zero preventive measures are performing worse on average.

As counter-intuitive as it might appear, it is thanks to studying virality that Systrom was able to grow Instagram at such a rapid pace.

Reportedly, he has been tracking the coronavirus statistics since 19th March.