Google Maps adds COVID-19 tracker to show hot spots

Remember when we used to avoid traffic?

Google Maps will now be helping its users avoid coronavirus hot spots. The tech company is unveiling a nifty new feature — the “COVID layer,” set to roll out this week for Android and iOS users — to help globetrotters navigate the world without contracting the virus.

Announced Wednesday on the company blog, the cutting-edge disease-tracker will show “critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do.” Google hopes that the function will ease commuters’ fears as travel becomes increasingly difficult during the pandemic.

To activate the COVID layer, users will simply tap the layers button in the upper right-hand corner of the Google Maps app screen and click on “COVID-19 info,” per the blog. That will bring up a seven-day average of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map the user is looking at, informed by data sourced from the World Health Organization and other local medical institutions.

If that wasn’t precise enough, the state-of-the-art watchdog also features a graph indicating whether infections are trending up or down. Meanwhile, commuters can also keep tabs on a region’s case density using the color-coding function.

And don’t fret if you plan on traveling to a remote locale. The COVID layer tracks cases in a whopping 220 countries and territories supported by Google maps, “along with state or province, county, and city-level data where available,” per the site.