One way to get a sense of whether or not COVID-19 is spreading (or not) is to track Google search trends. If more people are getting sick, one could expect to see a spike in certain Google search terms (e.g. COVID-19 symptoms). Conversely, the expectation would be for a decline in the usage of this search phrase if less people were getting infected. To monitor the spread and retreat of COVID-19 in the US (the initial wave in addition to any potential follow on waves), we’ve compiled several search terms that can help gauge whether or not COVID-19 infections are increasing or decreasing. Each of these search terms includes a Google Trends chart so you can get a sense of search interest over time.
Chart Description: The charts below present search trends over the past 90 days. The y-axis ranges between 0 and 100 and represents search interest for the time frame of the chart. A reading of 100 represents peak popularity. All charts are updated daily. This post will be updated as conditions (and searches) evolve. Tip: refresh your browser to make sure you are getting the latest data. To be notified of updates to our Coronavirus Google Trends charts, click the bell on the bottom right to receive free Dogs of the Dow Notifications.
COVID-19: While interest in COVID-19 is still fairly high, the current downtrend suggests that the combination of proper hygiene, social distancing plus staying at home is having an impact.
COVID symptoms: This search phrase jumped up at the beginning of the crisis and plateaued for several weeks as might be expected. Interestingly, there was a sharp increase several days before Easter weekend.
Shortness of Breath: This phrase had a significant increase at the beginning of the pandemic, however, the trend is now clearly down — likely the result of stay at home orders across the country. Although lower, it is still significantly higher than pre-pandemic.
Fever: Like “shortness of breath”, “fever” saw a spike at the beginning of the pandemic. However, unlike “shortness of breath”, “fever” is returning to pre-crisis levels.
COVID-19 Vaccine: Google searchers have maintained a high level of interest in a vaccine — the ultimate solution.
COVID-19 Treatment: Much like for the COVID-19 vaccine search, people are interested in searching for a COVID-19 treatment. The increased interest in this phrase compared to before the health crisis is higher than that of the COVID-19 vaccine search — this suggests that some may be searching for an actual treatment to help with COVID-19 symptoms.
ICU: ICU (i.e. Intensive Care Unit) can be a new acronym for some who have not faced a serious health care situation. The recent trend is down and approaching pre-crisis levels.
Back to Normal: A high level of searches for this phrase suggests that things are currently “not normal”, but also that the path to “normalcy” is not clear.
Second Wave: If the economy is opened up too soon or improperly, we could get a second wave. Concern over this possibility remains high.