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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Mathematicians from W&M help to develop coronavirus tracking database

WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)
WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

A William & Mary mathematician and an undergraduate student are part of a team that has developed an interactive, user-friendly dashboard tracking COVID-19 infections and deaths across the U.S.

GuanNan Wang, a professor in the university’s Department of Mathematics, and Yuan Gu ’20 were members of a research team based at Iowa State University. The dashboard is itself just the public-facing aspect of a larger set of scientific models used by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wang explained that the COVID-19 Dashboard offers a seven-day rolling forecast and a four-month projection of coronavirus infection/death count at both state and county levels. The dashboard displays the results from the analysis derived from the merging of four publicly available databases. She said Gu is working on the next step.

“After our dashboard was launched, we received a lot of public attention, and also many requests from our users to develop the mobile version of our dashboard,” Wang said.

Gu, a math and computer science double major, is now a graduate student at Carnegie Mellon University. He is developing a mobile version of the dashboard under Wang’s mentorship.

“Gu started with the development of the mobile app, based on the Android system,” Wang said.

She explained Gu has made considerable progress: developed a mobile user interface, set up the database and connected the database with the user interface.

“Right now, he is focusing on the functions and queries related to the app,” Wang said. “We look forward to releasing the app quite soon.”

The larger dashboard project was headed by Lily Wang, professor of statistics at Iowa State, who was one of GuanNan Wang’s Ph.D. advisors. The two are long-time collaborators.

An announcement from Iowa State notes that the initiative is the first to generate COVID-19 forecasts for all 3,104 counties in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia.

It provides real-time analysis with COVID-19 infection and fatality data from John Hopkins University, The New York TimesThe Atlantic, USAFacts, the World Health Organization and the CDC. County-specific data, which includes information about a variety of local features, is gathered from state and county health departments, local databases, census data, mobility data, government press releases and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“We delve deep into the dynamics of these counties. We even analyze the number of hospital beds in the area, the healthcare infrastructure and local healthcare expenditures,” Lily Wang said in the Iowa State release. “Detailed, county-specific modeling provides a thorough and richer understanding of how COVID-19 is impacting local communities.”

Local demographics, such as male-to-female ratios, age and minority populations are also factored into the county models. The status of local control policies—such as shelter-in-place orders, social-distancing mitigation and regulations on businesses and schools are analyzed, along with county-level mobility data.

Joseph McClain is the director of research communications at William & Mary.

Angela Hagerty is a science writer at Iowa State University.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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