Did Nick Watney’s WHOOP fitness tracker provide the key to coronavirus diagnosis?
The first positive coronavirus diagnosis on the PGA Tour raised a number of complicated questions, including what caused exactly one player who tested negative earlier in the week to request a subsequent test on Friday morning.
In Nick Watney's case, it could have come from an unremarkable strap around his wrist.
Though 39-year-old Watney tested negative for coronavirus before the tournament started, it was believed to be an alarming message on his WHOOP fitness tracker on Friday, indicating that he needed to be tested again. Or that's what those who spoke to Watney reported on Saturday.
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"Nick said he wore a WHOOP strap yesterday morning," Rory McIlroy, who spoke to Watney on Friday, told Hilton Head reporters. “Many of us wear these WHOOP straps on our wrists or biceps. As one of the great telltale signs they have found in the past few weeks, they have conducted studies where if your breathing rate increases by more than two breaths per minute at night, this could be a kind of telltale sign for you. So it was actually his WHOOP who told him that his breathing rate was up, so he thought I might have it.
WHOOP, a wearable technology used by a number of PGA Tour players, including Watney, McIlroy and Justin Thomas, has always measured people's heart rate and its heart rate variability. But it is a new feature that measures breath rate - essentially the number of breaths per minute - that Watney first indicated that he should do a follow-up on his condition.
Although requests for comments were not returned to Watney, a second source near Watney also said that his WHOOP data triggered a new test.
WHOOP has previously claimed to provide insight into a possible diagnosis of COVID and has stated on its website how a WHOOP user was exposed to COVID-19 in March and started reporting symptoms days later. During this period, the WHOOP user reported a 17 percent increase in respiratory rate.
The company plans to publish the results of a new research study for the detection of COVID-19 this month.
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