While most high school students are steadily making their way through their respective Netflix queues or playing video games during their self-isolation, one 17-year-old is managing a website that is keeping millions updated on the worldwide spread of COVID-19.
Avi Schiffmann, a high school junior from Washington state, launched ncov2019.live on December 29th, when the Coronavirus was still predominantly relegated to mainland China. The website has since garnered over 100 million visitors.
Rex Chapman shared a video from Bloomberg’s QuickTake series featuring Schiffman and his amazing efforts:
This young man is Avi Schiffmann. He’s just 17. But he built a site that tracks Coronavirus numbers.
He was offered $8m to place ads on the site.
He turned it down. Not all heroes wear capes.🌎❤️pic.twitter.com/rinMT5N2Pn
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) April 7, 2020
“My goal is to make the site the best place for information about the coronavirus, with multiple methods of getting data,” Schiffmann told Geekwire. “When I first started I was viewing the whole epidemic as an outsider, and I never expected it to personally affect me,” he said, adding that the growing number of cases and deaths in the Seattle area are concerning.
“I am spending most of my free time working on it,” Schiffmann said. “I get about 100 emails a day for bug fixes, feature requests, that kind of thing, so I am always working on adding new things.”
Unsurprisingly, the incredible amount of traffic being directed to Schiffman’s website has attracted businesses who are hungry for fertile ad space, one offer reportedly being as high as $8 million. But Schiffman has no interest in making a fortune off this endeavor.
“I think it’s a lot easier for me to turn down things like that just because I don’t care that much about making so much money. I feel like as an adult, it’s like, ‘oh yeah, I’ll retire now,’ but I don’t want to retire at 17.”
Many have scoffed at Schiffman for turning down such outrageous offers, claiming that he’s either naive or just plain stupid, while others have applauded him for refusing to profit from the suffering of others.
“I hope that what I created inspires a lot of young people to find ways they can help,” he told Bloomberg. “I mean, this is a global pandemic that affects everybody.”
While the high schooler isn’t putting ads on his COVID-19 tracking website, he’s sharing updates and accepting donations via “cups of coffee” on Ko-Fi. He’ll definitely need it if he wants to keep running what has become one of the biggest websites in the world.
You can check out the website for yourself and stay updated here.