Since early in the novel coronavirus pandemic, a team of University of Colorado and Colorado State University researchers has been scrutinizing the numbers of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, then modeling the possible ways the virus could continue to spread, depending on the effectiveness of preventative measures, like school closures, mask requirements and the statewide stay-at-home order in March and April.

Gov. Jared Polis announced Thursday the state has put the modeling tools online in an interactive web application, so that anyone can see the model in action. It will allow users to see updated data on the spread of the virus in the state, adjust the factors experts believe are key to suppressing new transmissions and see how different behaviors are expected to affect transmissions.

“You can actually plug in the parameters. … It’s the same model that’s been informing state decisions,” Polis said. “Now you can do it.”

Coloradans will be able to see how actions such as mask-wearing, social distancing and school reopenings could affect transmission risks. 

At a news conference Thursday, Polis and Dr. Jonathan Samet, the lead researcher with the UC team, showed the new internet-based app to the public. The web app is available at coloradocoronavirusmodel.com

The app will let users see how different factors, like wearing a mask, can change the spread of COVID-19, based on the model developed by the team.

The app will let users adjust the following parameters to see how it is expected to affect the spread of the virus:

  • The level of social distancing among the general population

  • The portion of the population wearing masks

  • The levels of social distancing for the general population starting in mid-August, about when many kids are going back to school

  • The level of social distancing for people over 65, who may be at a higher risk of a severe outcome if they contract COVID

  • The number of contacts traced for every case

  • How quickly contacts are traced

“The goal is to put into the hands of Coloradans the tools we use to project where the epidemic may go and to allow people to look and see how what they do affects the epidemic,” Dr. Samet said.

Dr. Samet said his team will continue to provide updates to the public, specifically by refining the interactive tool as new data informs the team’s understanding of the virus.

“The model itself will be updated on a weekly basis to reflect what we learn about where we’re going in Colorado,” Dr. Samet said. 

And new analyses of data and modeling reports will be posted by the team as well.

“I think we are likely to begin posting our own weekly updates of the model on our website, at the Colorado School of Public Health. So essentially the public will have both,” Dr. Samet said. “They’ll have what the modeling team is putting out, the materials that CDPHE (the state health department) and the governor receives, and then the public itself will have a continually updated tool.”

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