NASA Is Using Fitbits to Prevent COVID Spread Among Astronauts

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 across its facilities, NASA is handing out Fitbit devices to 1,000 of its employees, including 150 astronauts.

The wrist-worn devices can track several key health metrics, including body temperature. By logging all that data, the agency is hoping to get ahead of any outbreaks of COVID in any of its facilities, which stretch across the entire country.

“There is evidence that resting heart rate data and other key health indicators from wearables have the potential to identify flu-like illness such as COVID-19 before symptoms emerge,” a Fitbit press release reads. “This is important because people can transmit the virus before they realize they have symptoms or when they have no symptoms at all.”

“Based on a user’s daily check-in, the solution will provide NASA employees with daily guidance to help them decide whether to go to work or stay home,” the statement reads.

For now, NASA envisions the project as a pilot and will evaluate the impacts of the program before expanding it to more of its employees.

While there is no peer reviewed evidence that Fitbit devices are able to detect COVID early, the company is conducting research to investigate the question.

The news comes after a study conducted by Mount Sinai found that the Apple Watch was effectively able to predict positive COVID-19 cases up to a week before a PCR-based test came back positive — so there is precedent that wearables could help detect the illness.

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