Google Maps rolls out feature that purports to show where COVID-19 cases are spiking: How to use it in Houston area

FILE - This Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, file photo shows Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. As the Trump administration moves toward antitrust action against search giant Google, its campaigning to enlist support from sympathetic state attorneys general across the country. And President Donald Trump is pushing his campaign against Big Tech on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, touting curbs on legal protections for social media platforms he denounces as biased against conservative views.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File) (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Google Maps is tracking coronavirus cases and has rolled out a new feature that it says lets people see the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for any given area with a label indicating whether cases are trending up or down.

Google said in a blog post that the feature will roll out this week on Android and iOS systems.

Here’s how to use the function:

  • Open Google Maps.
  • Click on the top right-hand corner of your screen on the “Layers button,” and click on “COVID-19 info.”
  • On the map, color-coded areas and labels will show the status of a location down to the county level.
How Harris County appears with the Google Maps feature turned on, in this screen shot of an iPhone on Sept. 25, 2020. (Copyright 2020 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

The information on the map indicates the number of new cases per 100,000 people on a 7-day average from these data sources: Wikipedia, The New York Times, Johns Hopkins University CSSE COVID-19 Data and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. In the blog post, Google says the information is from “multiple authoritative sources,” including Johns Hopkins, the World Health Organization, health agencies, hospitals, the New York Times, and Wikipedia.

It’s important for KPRC 2 to note that in journalistic endeavors, Wikipedia is typically not considered an authoritative source.

For KPRC 2′s coronavirus coverage, including statistical data collected since the start of the pandemic, go here.

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