CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A new study finds there may be 22 undiscovered coronavirus hotspots across the country in states that are starting to ease stay-at-home restrictions.
Three of those hotspots are in Ohio.
Dataminr used artificial intelligence for its analysis, and found Lucas, Montgomery and Summit counties could all be emerging hotspots for coronavirus.
It shows infections rates could go up in places where there aren’t a lot of COVID-19 cases right now, six to 13 days before official counts show the spike.
Dataminr says it "detected growth in clusters of eyewitness, on-the-ground, and first-hand public social media posts."
The United Nations and World Health Organization uses this technology.
“It really does surprise me. I was kind of like, wow. But it does pause me to ponder, and want to dig further,” said Donna Skoda, the Summit County Public Health Commissioner.
She said there have been 636 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 50 deaths in Summit County.
Summit County Public Health has a detailed map of cases here.
The state reports cases of COVID-19 in long term care facilities every week here.
According to the data, there have been nearly 170 cases of COVID-19 in Summit County nursing homes between residents and staff and 15 deaths all in the last two weeks.
Skoda said there have been no cases in their jails.
“I think we're less than some and more than others,” she said, when we asked her how Summit County compares to other counties.
Skoda said they use another type of surveillance during flu season. They watch prescriptions to certain medicines to see if there's a spike in cases.
“It's interesting literature, it's interesting research and we'll take any tools we can get to figure out if in fact there will be a surge,” Skoda said, referring to the Dataminr analysis.
She does have one concern about the information they used.
“My only fear though is Facebook has all sorts of posts on it, I know that's one of the larger sources of data that's looked at. With the lack of testing, a lot of individuals have been presumptive positive,” Skoda said.
Skoda said they’re prepared for any possible surge as restrictions loosen, thanks to guidance from the state and local hospitals.
“We know people are going to get sick, people are going to be hospitalized, but how well we can act? Control it so we don't overwhelm the system,” she said.
Skoda recommends following these main guidelines as restrictions ease: don’t leave your house if you’re sick, wear a mask in public at your work and in stores and don’t forget to social distance.