COVID-19 Symptom Checker
The COVID-19 Symptom Checker was an interactive online tool that provided medical guidance to New Jerseyans about the virus during the earliest days of the pandemic. Using anonymous data, the tool also provided State officials with a way to track the disease’s spread on the ground when few other means existed.
Due to the extremely limited availability of testing at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, State officials had little sense of how quickly the virus was spreading and where, making it difficult to allocate scarce medical resources and personnel. At the same time, residents had little information about how COVID-19 spread, its symptoms, and what to do if they got sick. As a result, the State’s call centers were overwhelmed with people asking similar health questions.
Innovation In Action
Drawing inspiration from other governments around the world that had developed similar tools, the Office of Innovation quickly built a prototype of the symptom checker. Working with a leading mathematician, OOI was able to incorporate the anonymous zip-code level data into several models to track and predict the spread of COVID-19 in great detail.
Impact + Metrics
- Just 15 days after the first reported case of COVID-19 in the Garden State, OOI officially launched the State’s COVID-19 symptom checker, giving residents personalized medical guidance and easing the strain on the State’s call centers.
- By late April, 2022, approximately 200,000 people in New Jersey, or roughly 2% of the entire state, had used the symptom checker. This usage generated data that offered officials a wealth of granular, ZIP-code-level data at a time when information was scarce. By February 2021, the symptom checker had been used over 600,000 times.
- Each day, data from the symptom checker was translated into plain-language reports and distributed to senior State officials to help them decide where to deploy ventilators, PPE stockpiles and other critical resources to save lives.
- With the widespread availability of testing and other disease monitoring tools, the Symptom Checker is no longer actively in use.
Resources and Additional Information
- StateScoop: How New Jersey tracked COVID-19 when no data was available
- Fox 29: New Jersey forecasts the next several weeks of the coronavirus pandemic
- NJ Spotlight News: Chief Innovation Officer discusses ‘peak’ and predictive modeling
- GitHub repository
- NJ State Department of Health
- Lakshminarayanan Subramanian, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences Professor, New York University
Last updated on 10/26/23