As data on the spread of COVID-19 continues to stream in from around the world, one thing has become abundantly clear: The virus has spread at different rates depending on location.
Curves of infection rate have varied greatly from country to country, and University of North Georgia professor Ali Mehran is trying to figure out why.
Mehran has developed a survey asking simple questions such as if participants have been adhering to social distancing guidelines and whether or not they have enough resources to make it through a two-week quarantine. The survey also asks respondents to provide their location, allowing Mehran to separate data out based on where people are.
“Through this survey, I’m trying to address the geospatial aspect of the problem, and how residents of different places, knowing their social responsibility, have provided resiliency for their own community,” he said.
Mehran’s research was inspired by observations he’s made on both a global and local level.
He noticed that while China shares 1,200 kilometers of border with India, India has had less than 10 percent of the COVID-19 cases.
Closer to home, Mehran was disturbed by the fact that while Dougherty County contains only around 1 percent of Georgia’s population, the county now accounts for more than 10 percent of the state’s confirmed cases of COVID-19.
He has found that infection curves vary just as much county to county as they do country to country.
“There is something on this geospatial aspect, the transportation network or some events that are happening inside these counties,” he said. “This has highlighted the geospatial aspect of the problem.”
The end goal for Mehran is to draw conclusions on which communities have done the most to combat the spread of COVID-19, and how effective those measures have been.
With enough responses, Mehran hopes to localize his data as much as possible to find out what locations are most successful in containing a pandemic virus and how that can help protect us from any outbreaks in the future.
“I will come up with a plot to show different counties or cities and how fast they contributed to this two weeks home quarantine and did their social responsibility,” Mehran said. “And how did that impact the flattening of the outbreak curve.”
Survey link: go.ung.edu/covid19survey