Google Maps will soon include information on the spread of COVID-19 in states, counties and some cities. Enabling the “COVID” layer in the app will show the seven-day average number of confirmed cases in each area per 100,000 population. Areas on the map will be color coded based on the case rate, and a label indicates whether cases are increasing or decreasing. The feature will roll out to Android and iOS this week.
The layer is designed to help people “make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do,” Google Maps project manager Sujoy Banerjee wrote in a blog post. Public health experts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that people track the amount of COVID-19 disseminated in their area to determine the risk of certain activities. Transmission rates in local communities are important for parents when deciding to send their children to school and for families to monitor before any vacation plans.
COVID overlay pulls its data from Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard, Le New York Timesand Wikipedia.
This is one of the many pandemic-related features introduced to Google Maps over the past few months – the app also includes alerts about face cover warrants on public transport, information about options take-out food at restaurants and warnings to call a doctor’s office ahead of time if you suspect you have COVID-19.
The rollout of the new feature comes as COVID-19 rates in the United States start to climb again, in part due to growing epidemics in the Midwest. Experts fear a peak fall is on the way.