Fitness trackers

How San Diego Organizations Are Helping Fight the Pandemic – NBC 7 San Diego

We have come a long way since the start of the coronavirus pandemic with the introduction of vaccines and treatments for COVID-19. As the science continues to evolve, so do the steps our communities are taking to make progress in the fight against COVID-19.

NBC 7 spoke on Sunday with different types of organizations in San Diego who are working to make a difference in the fight against COVID-19. An organization is studying how fitness trackers could help detect infection at an early stage.

In the middle of Sherman Heights, the nonprofit Mid-City Community Advocate Network dumped 22 tons of snow at the community center.

It is a way for the group to fight against the pandemic. They organized an event filled with food, fun and vaccines. Everyone was welcome to the free event with their families while giving them access to the COVID-19 vaccine, booster, and even the flu shot.

“I think it’s a great idea for the community to come and get vaccinated. To protect others from contracting COVID,” said Alma Bautista who received her reminder on Sunday.

The non-profit organization tries to reach as many people as possible, especially since the omicron variant is spreading rapidly. Lexxus Carter, with Mid-City CAN, told NBC 7 they had wonderful turnout and response, prompting them to think about hosting another one.

“We know it’s very important in our communities to meet people where they are and to provide those safe and comfortable spaces,” Carter said.

Meeting people where they are and using the technology they already have is exactly how local researchers in San Diego also plan to curb the pandemic. At the Scripps Research Translational Institute, a study is using fitness trackers like Fitbits or Apple Watches to help create a COVID-19 detection system.

Julia Moore Vogel, Ph.D., is one of the principal investigators of two studies: a DETECT study and Long COVID study. The DETECT study uses data from fitness trackers to help detect a change in a person’s vital signs early on that may be from contracting COVID-19. It’s part of a larger system they hope to use to assess a person’s overall condition, based on algorithms.

“People can bring any device that monitors their heart rate and share that information with us, and then we can analyze it,” Vogel said.

Over 40,000 people participated and more are welcome.

“The ultimate goal would be for us to have a detection system across the country, maybe even across the world by having thousands and thousands of people sharing their data. We can see in San Diego there’s a huge push right now. People don’t even realize they’re symptomatic yet, but we can see their heart rate is elevated,” Vogel said.

The Long Covid study, which has yet to be funded, uses fitness tracker data in combination with an app to help measure a person’s energy output. He alerts someone ahead of time if he tries too hard to help keep what he has left. Vogel uses this app on her Garmin device for this exact reason, as she is suffering from Long COVID-19 and hopes to find ways to help others recover as well.