PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Google seemingly does everything. Now they’re color-coding COVID hot spots to help travelers navigate around them wherever they’re going this holiday season.
It’s an overlay on Google Maps, the double-box layer function that will help you avoid stopping in or traveling through some of the most-infected areas with the novel coronavirus.
Let’s say you’re traveling from Portland to central California. Google collects real-time info on COVID infections per 100,000 population, then color codes them — darker red for more severe, lighter red for less severe. It aggregates state totals and incorporates real time county level infection rates.
On this path from Portland along I-5 to California, you would come across light orange in Douglas County, then see a darker red as you cross into Jackson County (Medford, Ashland, Eagle Point.)
Google technology expert Justin Burr said that’s info you can use to avoid stopping for gas or snacks or hotels even in places with higher rates of covid infections.
“This is just to help people be as informed as possible so if there’s a high density of the virus, maybe you skip that on the road trip or maybe you just don’t stop there when you’re going from point A to point B,” Burr said.
Help navigating around COVID hot spots is in addition to functions people are accustomed to getting from Google — most direct travel routes by car, real time estimates of how busy bars, restaurants, grocery stores may be at any given time of day.
“Google’s mission from Day One has been to just organize the world’s information and keep it universally accessible and usable to all people,” Burr said. “So obviously, in the context of the pandemic, information is extremely valuable right now the way things are constantly changing.”
The COVID-19 Google Maps overlay could go a long way toward helping you avoid some of the more infected areas you’ll be traveling this season.