MAGIC TEAM: Tracking COVID-19 in Texas

May 22, 2020

moves covid screen shot map imageIn response to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas, the Center for Space Research’s Mid-American Geospatial Information Center (MAGIC) team is providing crisis decision support to the Texas State Operations Center in Austin and to emergency managers around the state. A public website allows access to some of the data used for state support through the Modeling, Observation and Visualization for Emergency Support (MOVES) web applications and data services.

The MAGIC team is providing data to the UT COVID-19 Modeling Consortium — led by integrative biology professor Lauren Ancel Meyers, UT’s leading pandemic epidemiologist — to improve their numerical models that demonstrate how social distancing can reduce the spread of infection. Model inputs include data from local sources reporting hospitalizations, ICU usage, fatalities and other indicators. The MAGIC team is also working with the Texas Advanced Computing Center, which is providing high-performance computing and data analytics for modeling the spread of coronavirus.

The MOVES Texas COVID-19 Status web application allows users to assess the exponential growth of coronavirus cases in Texas counties and determine whether the rate of infection is rising or falling. Users can track changing trends in the data collected for positive COVID-19 test cases in every Texas county and to measure the effectiveness of social distancing policies with respect to a reference curve representing a twelve-day doubling rate for areas where outbreaks have occurred. The latest results from Meyer’s 22-city/metro areas pandemic model are also available for users to view and download. The model results illustrate how different degrees of social distancing can reduce the spread of coronavirus infections through the Texas population, allowing future isolation and containment of the virus.

Work in progress by the CSR team focuses on the impacts to vulnerable populations, transmission in rural areas of Texas, early outbreak detection and coordination of state and county-level response plans.

“Working with Dr. Meyers and the UT community of integrative biologists and statisticians continues to be especially productive, as we discover new ways to measure and assess the impacts of COVID-19 in Texas, including in vulnerable rural areas of the state where outbreaks have started to occur,” said Gordon Wells, program manager at the Center for Space Research who is leading the MAGIC team.