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Northeastern University Model Shows COVID-19 Spread In Boston In February

BOSTON (CBS) -- Models from Northeastern University show coronavirus may have been spreading in the United States earlier than the government thought.

"In the United States, the most internationally connected places are the ones that started the epidemic first, and so we are talking about New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle. Those places we are talking about thousands of infections by early March, end of February," said Alessandro Vespignani, lead modeling researcher and director of the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University. "That means that we have transmissions events and we had people infected much earlier in February."

"We have a model that tracks people, individuals. We integrate data from air transportation and other traveling patterns, and so we can follow the trajectory of the pandemic from China and other countries in the United States," Vespignani explained.

More than 100 people may have been infected with coronavirus in Boston by mid-February, the model showed, according to the New York Times.  As of March 1, that number could have increased to 2,300.

"Most of those chains of transmission were undetected. That was February, so flu season. Many of the people do not have serious symptoms and the disease spread under the radar," said Vespignani.

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