Jewish Teen Creates Website to Track Coronavirus Updates, Visited by Millions
A website created by a Jewish high school student that tracks updates of the COVID-19 pandemic has already been visited by 20 million people since it launched in late December.
Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior who lives near Seattle, told TODAY Parents about his website, ncov2019.live, “I thought it would be cool if there was a website that could pull in all the information from all kinds of (sources). I mainly wanted to create something that would show the data as accurately as possible because there has been a lot of misinformation.”
The state of Washington has recorded the most coronavirus cases, more than 80, in the US and the highest number of deaths, 14, according to The New York Times.
Schiffmann’s site collects data from various reliable sources, such as local government website and health departments, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The site also provides “quick facts” that include the total number of confirmed cases, number of deaths, number of people recovered and total countries infected. About 60 percent of the traffic to the site is from outside the US.
Schiffmann, 17, a self-taught coder, created a program that originally updated the website’s data every 10 minutes, but now updates every minute, The Times of Israel reported. He still spends about six hours a day improving the site.
The site also features an interactive Google map, a Twitter feed, travel advisories and background information on the disease and its prevention, as well as tips for preparing for quarantine situations.
In the near future, Schiffmann expects to have a table with cases from every US state, a vaccine tracker, graphs comparing the COVID-19 outbreak to historical pandemics and a translation of the site to 30 different languages.
“I started working on this project at Christmastime, when there were fewer than 1,000 confirmed cases — all in mainland China,” said Schiffmann. “It was hard to get clear, concise, and accurate information on what was going on, and I wanted to do something to fix this.”
He added that his site “would also be a way to help with global health, which is something that’s needed when not all governments are the nicest or transparent, and it is hard to get information.”
Visitors to the site are welcome to make donations though a tab that says “Buy me a coffee” and Schiffmann said the CDC had congratulated him on his work thus far. He has also received hundreds of internship and job offers from the health sector, startups, investors, and “local tech companies.”
“I’d say the worst part — I wouldn’t say it’s a bad part — is that it takes up like the vast majority of my time,” Schiffmann said. “There’s so much international pressure. The fact that people from all around the world use my site and trust it for information. In the past 24 hours, there have been like two and a half million visitors.”
“(This website) was mainly just to get the data clear and concise,” he added. “It shouldn’t be hard in a global pandemic like this. You should, as a citizen, be able to get the information you need.”