Social Distancing May Be Working To Stem The Spread Of Coronavirus, Fever Data Suggests

'The data are showing [social distancing] is working,' says a health technology industry spokesperson.

a thermometer shows a patients temperature
guvo59 / Pixabay

'The data are showing [social distancing] is working,' says a health technology industry spokesperson.

Social distancing appears to be working to stop the spread of the advancing coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis of fever and temperature data from Americans across the country.

As USA Today reports, people across the world and across the United States are practicing so-called “social distancing” and avoiding places of public gathering in order to stop the spread of the current pandemic. And while the nation is feeling the pain of the process, with millions of Americans out of work and businesses facing closure, the process does seem to work.

How do we know this? Because there are fewer clusters of fevers, says Inder Singh, CEO of Kinsa, a manufacturer of medical supplies.

Kinsa sells thermometers that are used across the country, and those “smart” thermometers send their data back to the company, which collects and analyzes it.

What the statistics show is that fevers — which can be a general symptom of flu and is among the classic symptoms of COVID-19 — started dropping across the country as social distancing was put into place.

“When you shut down schools and businesses, you are breaking the chain of infections. The data are showing it is working and the clusters of fever we were seeing are leveling off and diminishing within days,” said Singh.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 25: A member of the public wearing a protective mask crosses Westminster Bridge on March 25, 2020 in London, England. British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced strict lockdown measures urging people to stay at home and only leave the house for basic food shopping, exercise once a day and essential travel to and from work. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to at least 194 countries, claiming over 18,500 lives and infecting over 420,000 people. There have now been over 8,000 diagnosed cases in the UK and 422 deaths. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)
  Alex Davidson / Getty Images

In Santa Clara County, California, for example, flu-like illnesses dropped 60 percent immediately after a shelter-in-place order was put in place in the jurisdiction.

By comparison, at the same time, such illnesses were going up on the other side of the country in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, where there was no such order in place.

Meanwhile, executives at Kinsa are trying to get public health officials to take this data seriously, even if it was privately collected. In 2018, the company predicted the spread of the flu, and in 2019, it predicted the spread of bad colds that were mistaken as the former illness.

Kinsa board member Beth Seidenberg says that her company has been trying for years to get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work with them to form a public-private partnership that tracks diseases.

“We think this is very important at the federal and at the state level to show where the hot spots are,” she said.

Meanwhile, the CDC said in a statement that it “appreciates the efforts of so many companies working across the private sector to address this new threat,” although it declined to say why it isn’t collaborating with Kinsa.

The company plans to submit its most recent fever data to an academic journal for publication.