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  1. Tracking the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major challenge for policy makers. Although, several efforts are ongoing for accurate forecasting of cases, deaths, and hospitalization at various resolutions, few have been attempted for college campuses despite their potential to become COVID-19 hot-spots. In this paper, we present a real-time effort towards weekly forecasting of campus-level cases during the fall semester for four universities in Virginia, United States. We discuss the challenges related to data curation. A causal model is employed for forecasting with one free time-varying parameter, calibrated against case data. The model is then run forward in time tomore »obtain multiple forecasts. We retrospectively evaluate the performance and, while forecast quality suffers during the campus reopening phase, the model makes reasonable forecasts as the fall semester progresses. We provide sensitivity analysis for the several model parameters. In addition, the forecasts are provided weekly to various state and local agencies.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 6, 2022
  2. High resolution mobility datasets have become increasingly available in the past few years and have enabled detailed models for infectious disease spread including those for COVID-19. However, there are open questions on how such a mobility data can be used effectively within epidemic models and for which tasks they are best suited. In this paper, we extract a number of graph-based proximity metrics from high resolution cellphone trace data from X-Mode and use it to study COVID-19 epidemic spread in 50 land grant university counties in the US. We present an approach to estimate the effect of mobility on casesmore »by fitting an ODE based model and performing multivariate linear regression to explain the estimated time varying transmissibility. We find that, while mobility plays a significant role, the contribution is heterogeneous across the counties, as exemplified by a subsequent correlation analysis. We subsequently evaluate the metrics’ utility for case surge prediction defined as a supervised classification problem, and show that the learnt model can predict surges with 95% accuracy and 87% F1-score.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 10, 2022
  3. The Mumbai Suburban Railways, locals, are a key transit infrastructure of the city and is crucial for resuming normal economic activity. Due to high density during transit, the potential risk of disease transmission is high, and the government has taken a wait and see approach to resume normal operations. To reduce disease transmission, policymakers can enforce reduced crowding and mandate wearing of masks. Cohorting – forming groups of travelers that always travel together, is an additional policy to reduce disease transmission on locals without severe restrictions. Cohorting allows us to: (𝑖) form traveler bubbles, thereby decreasing the number of distinctmore »interactions over time; (𝑖𝑖) potentially quarantine an entire cohort if a single case is detected, making contact tracing more efficient, and (𝑖𝑖𝑖) target cohorts for testing and early detection of symptomatic as well as asymptomatic cases. Studying impact of cohorts using compartmental models is challenging because of the ensuing representational complexity. Agent-based models provide a natural way to represent cohorts along with the representation of the cohort members with the larger social network. This paper describes a novel multi-scale agent-based model to study the impact of cohorting strategies on COVID-19 dynamics in Mumbai. We achieve this by modeling the Mumbai urban region using a detailed agent-based model comprising of 12.4 million agents. Individual cohorts and their inter-cohort interactions as they travel on locals are modeled using local mean field approximations. The resulting multi-scale model in conjunction with a detailed disease transmission and intervention simulator is used to assess various cohorting strategies. The results provide a quantitative trade-off between cohort size and its impact on disease dynamics and well being. The results show that cohorts can provide significant benefit in terms of reduced transmission without significantly impacting ridership and or economic & social activity.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 3, 2022
  4. The COVID-19 pandemic represents the most significant public health disaster since the 1918 influenza pandemic. During pandemics such as COVID-19, timely and reliable spatiotemporal forecasting of epidemic dynamics is crucial. Deep learning-based time series models for forecasting have recently gained popularity and have been successfully used for epidemic forecasting. Here we focus on the design and analysis of deep learning-based models for COVID-19 forecasting. We implement multiple recurrent neural network-based deep learning models and combine them using the stacking ensemble technique. In order to incorporate the effects of multiple factors in COVID-19 spread, we consider multiple sources such as COVID-19more »confirmed and death case count data and testing data for better predictions. To overcome the sparsity of training data and to address the dynamic correlation of the disease, we propose clustering-based training for high-resolution forecasting. The methods help us to identify the similar trends of certain groups of regions due to various spatio-temporal effects. We examine the proposed method for forecasting weekly COVID-19 new confirmed cases at county-, state-, and country-level. A comprehensive comparison between different time series models in COVID-19 context is conducted and analyzed. The results show that simple deep learning models can achieve comparable or better performance when compared with more complicated models. We are currently integrating our methods as a part of our weekly forecasts that we provide state and federal authorities.« less
  5. As the complexity of our food systems increases, they also become susceptible to unanticipated natural and human-initiated events. Commodity trade networks are a critical component of our food systems in ensuring food availability. We develop a generic data-driven framework to construct realistic agricultural commodity trade networks. Our work is motivated by the need to study food flows in the context of biological invasions. These networks are derived by fusing gridded, administrative-level, and survey datasets on production, trade, and consumption. Further, they are periodic temporal networks reflecting seasonal variations in production and trade of the crop. We apply this approach tomore »create networks of tomato flow for two regions – Senegal and Nepal. Using statistical methods and network analysis, we gain insights into spatiotemporal dynamics of production and trade. Our results suggest that agricultural systems are increasingly vulnerable to attacks through trade of commodities due to their vicinity to regions of high demand and seasonal variations in production and flows.« less
  6. We study allocation of COVID-19 vaccines to individuals based on the structural properties of their underlying social contact network. Even optimistic estimates suggest that most countries will likely take 6 to 24 months to vaccinate their citizens. These time estimates and the emergence of new viral strains urge us to find quick and effective ways to allocate the vaccines and contain the pandemic. While current approaches use combinations of age-based and occupation-based prioritizations, our strategy marks a departure from such largely aggregate vaccine allocation strategies. We propose a novel agent-based modeling approach motivated by recent advances in (i) science ofmore »real-world networks that point to efficacy of certain vaccination strategies and (ii) digital technologies that improve our ability to estimate some of these structural properties. Using a realistic representation of a social contact network for the Commonwealth of Virginia, combined with accurate surveillance data on spatio-temporal cases and currently accepted models of within- and between-host disease dynamics, we study how a limited number of vaccine doses can be strategically distributed to individuals to reduce the overall burden of the pandemic. We show that allocation of vaccines based on individuals' degree (number of social contacts) and total social proximity time is signi ficantly more effective than the currently used age-based allocation strategy in terms of number of infections, hospitalizations and deaths. Our results suggest that in just two months, by March 31, 2021, compared to age-based allocation, the proposed degree-based strategy can result in reducing an additional 56{110k infections, 3.2{5.4k hospitalizations, and 700{900 deaths just in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Extrapolating these results for the entire US, this strategy can lead to 3{6 million fewer infections, 181{306k fewer hospitalizations, and 51{62k fewer deaths compared to age-based allocation. The overall strategy is robust even: (i) if the social contacts are not estimated correctly; (ii) if the vaccine efficacy is lower than expected or only a single dose is given; (iii) if there is a delay in vaccine production and deployment; and (iv) whether or not non-pharmaceutical interventions continue as vaccines are deployed. For reasons of implementability, we have used degree, which is a simple structural measure and can be easily estimated using several methods, including the digital technology available today. These results are signi ficant, especially for resource-poor countries, where vaccines are less available, have lower efficacy, and are more slowly distributed.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 15, 2022
  7. Disease dynamics, human mobility, and public policies co-evolve during a pandemic such as COVID-19. Understanding dynamic human mobility changes and spatial interaction patterns are crucial for understanding and forecasting COVID- 19 dynamics. We introduce a novel graph-based neural network(GNN) to incorporate global aggregated mobility flows for a better understanding of the impact of human mobility on COVID-19 dynamics as well as better forecasting of disease dynamics. We propose a recurrent message passing graph neural network that embeds spatio-temporal disease dynamics and human mobility dynamics for daily state-level new confirmed cases forecasting. This work represents one of the early papers onmore »the use of GNNs to forecast COVID-19 incidence dynamics and our methods are competitive to existing methods. We show that the spatial and temporal dynamic mobility graph leveraged by the graph neural network enables better long-term forecasting performance compared to baselines.« less
  8. This work quanti es mobility changes observed during the di erent phases of the pandemic world-wide at multiple resolutions { county, state, country { using an anonymized aggregate mobility map that captures population ows between geographic cells of size 5 km2. As we overlay the global mobility map with epidemic incidence curves and dates of government interventions, we observe that as case counts rose, mobility fell and has since then seen a slow but steady increase in ows. Further, in order to understand mixing within a region, we propose a new metric to quantify the e ect of social distancingmore »on the basis of mobility.Taking two very di erent countries sampled from the global spectrum, We analyze in detail the mobility patterns of the United States (US) and India. We then carry out a counterfactual analysis of delaying the lockdown and show that a one week delay would have doubled the reported number of cases in the US and India. Finally, we quantify the e ect of college students returning back to school for the fall semester on COVID-19 dynamics in the surrounding community. We employ the data from a recent university outbreak (reported on August 16, 2020) to infer possible Re values and mobility ows combined with daily prevalence data and census data to obtain an estimate of new cases that might arrive on a college campus. We nd that maintaining social distancing at existing levels would be e ective in mitigating the extra seeding of cases. However, potential behavioral change and increased social interaction amongst students (30% increase in Re ) along with extra seeding can increase the number of cases by 20% over a period of one month in the encompassing county. To our knowledge, this work is the rst to model in near real-time, the interplay of human mobility, epidemic dynamics and public policies across multiple spatial resolutions and at a global scale.« less
  9. Using a discrete dynamical system model for a networked social system, we consider the problem of learning a class of local interaction functions in such networks. Our focus is on learning local functions which are based on pairwise disjoint coalitions formed from the neighborhood of each node. Our work considers both active query and PAC learning models. We establish bounds on the number of queries needed to learn the local functions under both models.We also establish a complexity result regarding efficient consistent learners for such functions. Our experimental results on synthetic and real social networks demonstrate how the number ofmore »queries depends on the structure of the underlying network and number of coalitions.« less
  10. Global airline networks play a key role in the global importation of emerging infectious diseases. Detailed information on air traffic between international airports has been demonstrated to be useful in retrospectively validating and prospectively predicting case emergence in other countries. In this paper, we use a well-established metric known as effective distance on the global air traffic data from IATA to quantify risk of emergence for different countries as a consequence of direct importation from China, and compare it against arrival times for the first 24 countries. Using this model trained on official first reports from WHO, we estimate timemore »of arrival (ToA) for all other countries. We then incorporate data on airline suspensions to recompute the effective distance and assess the effect of such cancellations in delaying the estimated arrival time for all other countries. Finally we use the infectious disease vulnerability indices to explain some of the estimated reporting delays.« less