A&M professor, students create COVID-19 spread simulations to aide in university decision making
The simulations factor in mask wearing, social distancing, and number of students on campus.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A Texas A&M University professor along with undergraduate and graduate students are working to create models showing the potential spread of COVID-19 over a year’s time.
Ulisses Braga-Neto, a Texas A&M Engineering professor is helping his students look at the different factors on campus, including testing and infection rates, to put together models for future potential spread. He says they use signal processing to get down to the real data.
“Even a negative test could be a false negative or false positive, and you could get the wrong information because the test is not 100% accurate,” said Braga-Neto. “So we take all these factors into account, and we try to recover the true number of people that are infected based on any kind of data we can get.”
Durward Cator is an undergraduate student working with Braga-Neto on this concept and says that the model he put together is a good way to show how the virus can spread from person to person, and from building to building.
“I can also sort of about 100% accurately predict future spreads, and how it would behave depending on how well students behave with social distancing wearing masks and whatnot,” said Cator.
Braga-Neto says that this work is an important way to look into the future, based on trends, to make the best decisions when it comes to how the university and the state handle the pandemic.
“The ultimate purpose of this is to assist with decision making from health authorities campus authorities to make informed decisions about if we need to stay open or we need to close more,” said Braga-Neto.
Braga-Neto says that these models are also being used to help decide what happens next semester on campus.
“For the Spring semester, the university is going to have to make decisions about how many people are going to attend classes face-to-face, how many people will attend online, and we can take that into account and run simulations to see what the outcomes would be,” said Braga-Neto.
Although Brega-Neto says these simulations can not accurately predict the end of the pandemic, he says that this work being done in Aggieland and across the globe is offering signs of hope.
“More people who look at the problem it gets to a higher chance of us finding the answer,” Braga-Neto said.
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