Google Maps coronavirus update helps users navigate through hotspots

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Google has implemented a new color-coded tool in Maps this week to help users identify how prevalent COVID-19 is within their area.

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With the new "COVID Layer" in Maps, smartphone users will be able to see a seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map they are looking at. The tool features a label that indicates whether the cases in the area are increasing or decreasing and uses color-coding to distinguish the density of new cases.

"More than one billion people turn to Google Maps for essential information about how to get from place to place–especially during the pandemic when safety concerns are top of mind," the company wrote in its blog post. During an unprecedented time, the new features are said to help people "make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do," the company wrote.

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The color codes are as follows:

  • Grey: Fewer than 1 case
  • Yellow: 1-10 cases
  • Orange: 10-20 cases
  • Dark orange: 20-30 cases
  • Red: 30-40 cases
  • Dark red: 40+ cases

(Google)

The data featured in the COVID layer is available for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports. Google pulls the data from "multiple authoritative sources," which include Johns Hopkins University, the New York Times and Wikipedia.

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"These sources get data from public health organizations like the World Health Organization, government health ministries, along with state and local health agencies and hospitals," Google said, adding that many of these sources already power COVID case information in Google Search.

The COVID layer starts rolling out worldwide on Android and iOS devices this week. Users can find the tool on the layers button on the top right-hand corner of the screen. To access the information, users just click on “COVID-19 info.”

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Google's latest rollout comes as part of the company's efforts to help people better navigate the pandemic. Earlier this summer, the company released technology that is said to automatically notify people if they might have been exposed to the virus.

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