4 bright spots in a tough year
I’m certainly not the first person to observe that 2020 has been a really, really difficult year. Thousands of people are dying of COVID-19 each day. The holidays, typically joyous and hopeful, are overshadowed by loss and sacrifice. With months to go until we can safely put COVID behind us, it’s hard to summon the hope and optimism we need to make it through.
So for a moment, let’s focus on the good news of 2020 — like the incredible feats of innovation to make and distribute the first coronavirus vaccine in record time — and refill our reservoirs of optimism.
1. Millions of people made sacrifices for the greater good. By following stay at home orders, wearing masks and social distancing, Kinsa’s data showed the curve began to flatten last spring. Despite the physical, mental and emotional strain of the lockdowns, our collective best efforts helped protect our communities. The data clearly showed that the precautions you took and the sacrifices you made across the country last spring worked.
2. Your sacrifices reduced the spread of other contagious illnesses outside of COVID. Most notably, Kinsa’s data predicts that 2020 will be a historically light flu season. While this may seem insignificant in light of the current pandemic, a “twindemic” would have stressed our hospitals and healthcare system far beyond capacity and undoubtedly cost even more lives. But thanks to your efforts, we are seeing overall non-COVID illness levels hovering below 1%, a dramatic low compared to this time last year, when nearly 6% of the US population was sick.
3. We saw our kids stay healthier than ever. I’m a father of two and I know firsthand how tough it’s been on them and everyone else. We are as excited as ever to return to school, playdates, and life as normal. But one thing we haven’t missed is catching the flu at school. Kinsa’s data shows that compared to the last two years, children and teenagers have experienced significantly less fluish illness during flu season.
4. Together, we made data-driven decisions to reduce risk and slow the spread. Numerous companies, labs and healthcare institutions leveraged their troves of data — while protecting people’s privacy — to help bring a better picture of where and how the epidemic was impacting our country. From Apple to Google, Johns Hopkins to IHME to CovidActNow and others, making data usable for public health leaders and the masses has saved lives. At Kinsa, we were proud to realize our mission to create an early warning system for COVID case surges and are now codifying that so that we can use this same network to identify future outbreaks — whether flu or another potential pandemic — early and help us get ahead. Today, that’s living through healthweather.us where you can find your local area risk of contracting an infectious illness. We expect to keep this alive well into the future so we can all be healthier together.
As the new year approaches, I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead a team that’s growing an early warning system for contagious illness so we can detect and respond faster. I’m hopeful that we are on our way to using this data to manage the remainder of this pandemic, better prepare for the next one, and save lives along the way.
Stay safe, and let’s look forward to the new year with optimism.
(On Twitter? Follow me @inderstweet)