Carnegie Mellon University
March 13, 2020

Carnegie Mellon Extends Forecasting of Flu-Like Illness

A rise of COVID-19 cases prompts request from CDC

By Byron Spice

Byron Spice

The flu season peaked weeks ago and the Delphi Research Group at Carnegie Mellon University normally would plan to halt its national and regional forecasts of influenza-like illness by the end of May.

But this is no ordinary disease season. At the request of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the CMU researchers will continue their forecasts into the summer as the nation braces for the spread of the flu-like COVID-19 illness, caused by a new strain of coronavirus officially known as SARS-2-CoV.

"We likely will see another wave of influenza-like illness in the coming weeks or month," said Roni Rosenfeld, leader of the Delphi group and head of CMU's Machine Learning Department. Delphi is one of two Influenza Forecasting Centers of Excellence designated last year by the CDC.

In contrast to the CDC's weekly flu surveillance reports, which are based on past visits to doctor's offices and clinics, flu forecasts attempt to estimate the current level of disease around the country and to predict how that will change in the weeks and months ahead.

The forecasting center of excellence is housed in the School of Computer Science but draws on expertise across CMU, including the Department of Statistics & Data Science and the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, as well as the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and the Harvard School of Public Health.

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