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The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


The Student News Site of Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy


While The Pandemic Had Seemingly Begun Just a Few Weeks Ago, Seventeen Year Old Avi Schiffmann Tracked The Coronavirus Before Everyone Knew About It.


As of now, there are currently about 1,367,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States. In Kansas, there are nearly 7,000 confirmed cases. Europe strikes 1.7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 156,000 deceased, making up over half of the entire world’s virus toll. A few months ago, it would be quite troublesome to access any of this information due to the lack of organized data regarding the coronavirus, but a method of aggregating this information was developed by Avi Schiffmann, of Seattle, Wash. His website ncov2019.live instantly provides the most recent information about coronavirus cases, but the story behind his craftsmanship is even more enticing. 

In an interview conducted by Democracy Now, Schiffmann went into detail about his inspiration, how the website works, and what he wishes to add in the future. He provided information and was attacking the issue all the way back in December of 2019. Not only that, but he was just seventeen years old when he made the website. 

When Schiffman created the website, he wanted to make sure that misinformation didn’t spread and that people could have a reliable source for covid19 updates. Photo by Health Mill.

“When I started this website there were less than 1,000 cases in the Wuhan area of China,” Schiffmann said in his interview with Democracy.now. “I saw this on the news a long time ago, and I noticed it was really hard just to find the information. There was a lot of misinformation spreading.” 

Schiffmann’s initial goal for the project was to provide an easy way for anyone to access information about the emerging covid19 viral infections without having to go through government websites. The other downside is that these websites can only provide information for one general area, but ncov2019.live changes everything. Based on the viewer’s expanse of curiosity, they can view either a broad scope of the statistics or focus on a certain region in which they are interested. 

When opening the website, a simple and concise layout of statistics is displayed. The most important and prodigious component of the website is the top left corner that tells the viewer the ‘quick facts’ about the pandemic. It shows the number of confirmed cases, deaths, tests, and recovered victims. The rest of the information is organized by region, then country, then state, province, or city. 

As far as Schiffmann’s expertise goes, he has been programming for about 10 years, but only started web development a couple of months before he began the project. His means as to learning how to design the website were enabled simply by the internet: “You can learn anything online. If I had a question or didn’t know how to do a certain thing, I just went to google and searched it up,” Schiffmann told Democracy.now’s Amy Goodman.

The most interesting question involves how the website functions in order to provide the latest information. “The entire website updates every minute or so, and the way it works is with something called web scraping,” says Schiffmann. 

According to Webharvy, web scraping is a way to extract a large amount of data and save it to computer files or a database. The way Schiffmann incorporates this technique is that the web scrapes local government websites or news sources. With this in place, the website can constantly update without the webmaster having to go in edit each part of the code. 

With web scraping, the website can constantly update without the webmaster having to go in edit each part of the code. Photo from WallpaperFlare

In order to give the website a more positive outlook, Schiffmann has specifically made an effort to research the number of recovered cases and the number of tests worldwide. He also hopes to install some sort of ‘vaccine tracker,’ a feature that will allow the viewers to track the medicinal research progress of an individual country or region. 

As socially and economically damaging this pandemic has been over the past few months, it has admittedly sparked the virtuosic creation of an advanced tool of technology that helps publications around the globe report statistics accurately. It truly is incredible how much a 17-year old can do with the knowledge of the internet, and perhaps Schiffmann’s expertise will be useful even further once a vaccine is invented and produced worldwide. That way, he can show the progress the world will make to gleam a positive light on this unfortunate setback. 

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