Penn Medicine digital team tracks COVID-19 tweets, could aid in surge response

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The Penn Medicine Center for Digital Health developed a Twitter map to examine how public thinking and behavior around COVID-19 is changing, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Four things to know:

1. The developers tracked 4 million to 5 million tweets related to COVID-19 and examined them for language about stress, anxiety and the key topics people discussed. Some raised economic concerns or outlined COVID-19 symptoms while others described panic-buying.

2. In the last month, language on stress and anxiety has increased in the tweets, according to the report.

3. Twitter users in the hardest-hit states are more likely to tweet about testing or lack of PPE for healthcare workers as their top concerns, while in the less hard hit states users are more likely to tweet about event cancellations and questioning whether the pandemic is a hoax.

"There has been consistently elevated use in anxious language on Twitter," Sarath Guntuku, a research scientist at the Center for Digital Health, said in the report.

He later added, "The language used surrounding [COVID-19] is more emotionally charged than before."

4. One potential use for the Twitter map is for physicians to predict future surges based on the symptoms described in tweets.

 

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