National study predicts Jefferson County as impending COVID-19 hotspot

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In a March 30 study, Dataminr identified 14 U.S. states where the data suggested there could be an impending spike in case counts based on growth trends in eyewitness social media clusters. Within one week after publication of the study, the exponential case spike occurred in all 14 states.

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The study discovers that in the eight states planning to ease social distancing measures in the coming weeks, almost two dozen small cities and rural counties have infection rates poised to skyrocket, despite their currently not having large numbers of confirmed cases.

The analysis, by technology firm Dataminr, uses artificial intelligence to scrutinize social media posts on platforms such as Twitter and Reddit. The company also looks at 10,000 public data sources in more than 100 languages. Its technology is used by both governments and companies, including many hedge funds, to predict emerging events. It is also used by the World Health Organization and the United Nations.

Dataminr has detected growth in clusters of eyewitness, on-the-ground, first-hand public social media posts in 22 small metropolitan and rural counties across eight states in the U.S., where exponential growth in COVID-19 official case count has yet to occur. Dataminr’s study also shows that cluster growth in major urban counties across the same eight states has been a leading indicator of virus outbreak hotspots 6-13 days prior to exponential growth in COVID-19 official case counts. The study suggests that county-level data patterns appear to be following the same pattern identified previously in U.S. states. In a March 30 study, Dataminr identified 14 U.S. states where the data suggested there could be an impending spike in case counts based on growth trends in eyewitness social media clusters. Within one week after publication of the study, the exponential case spike occurred in all 14 states.

In the following eight U.S. states -- Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas -- Dataminr has identified 22 small metropolitan and rural counties, as of April 22nd, where exponential growth in public social media clusters has started, yet there has not yet been exponential growth in cases: Bay (FL), Charleston (SC), Chatham (GA), Clarke (GA), Escambia (FL), Greenville (SC), Hamilton (TN), Hidalgo (TX), Horry (SC), Jackson (MI), Jefferson (TX), Lubbock (TX), Lucas (OH), Manatee (FL), Monroe (IN), Montgomery (OH), Polk (FL), St. Joseph (IN), Summit (OH), Tippecanoe (IN), Vigo (IN), Volusia (FL).