Map of emotions on social media in the U.S. and UK on April 24. Credit: Expert System and Sociometrica, April 24, 2020

An Italian-based artificial intelligence company is regularly analyzing social media posts about the coronavirus for their emotional content.

Why it matters: Classifying tens of thousands of posts by their emotional tone provides a snapshot of how people feel about the pandemic. Spoiler alert: not great!

How it works: Expert System specializes in semantics and natural language reading, a branch of AI involving computer systems that attempt to make sense of written language.

  • In doing so, a computer can rapidly analyze vast amounts of the written word — like, for example, a day's worth of social media posts about the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the past few weeks, Expert System has been collecting English language social media posts each day that feature frequently used hashtags like #coronalockdown and #covid19. Its AI can extract the emotional content of those posts, which is then analyzed and interpreted by Sociometrica.

  • On April 24, "fear" had become the single most widespread emotion, displacing "sadness."

But, but, but: Such negative feelings have been declining over the past 10 days, from 62.4% to 45.5%. At the same time, neutral and positive feelings are on the rise, with particular growth around posts showing "hope."

  • Also increasing in intensity is "health fanaticism," which Expert System defines as "a feeling of fear and anxiety around certain aspects of health and an emphasis on defending the health of one’s own body."

The bottom line: A natural language AI can tell you what you probably already know: the pandemic is terrible, but if you squint hard enough, there's light at the end of the tunnel.

Go deeper: Isolation can be bad for mental health

Go deeper

Los Angeles and San Diego public schools will be online only this fall

Alhambra Unified School District. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Public schools in Los Angeles and San Diego, the two largest public school districts in California, will not be sending children back to campuses in the fall and will instead administer online classes only due to concerns over the ongoing threat of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The two districts, which together enroll about 825,000 students, are the largest in the country thus far to announce that they will not return to in-person learning in the fall, even as the Trump administration aggressively pushes for schools to do so.

This story is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 12,984,811 — Total deaths: 570,375 — Total recoveries — 7,154,492Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 3,327,388— Total deaths: 135,379 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. World: WHO head: There will be no return to the "old normal" for the foreseeable future — Hong Kong Disneyland closing due to surge.
  4. States: Cuomo says New York will use formula to determine if reopening schools is safe.
  5. Politics: Mick Mulvaney: "We still have a testing problem in this country."

Cuomo: New York will use formula to determine if it's safe to reopen schools

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that schools will only reopen if they meet scientific criteria that show the coronavirus is under control in their region, including a daily infection rate of below 5% over a 14-day average. "We're not going to use our children as guinea pigs," he added.

The big picture: Cuomo's insistence that New York will rely on data to decide whether to reopen schools comes as President Trump and his administration continue an aggressive push to get kids back in the classroom as part of their efforts to juice the economy.