Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom explains the new coronavirus tracker

Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom told CNBC on Monday that the coronavirus tracking website he helped build shows troubling levels of spread in many U.S. states.

Epidemiologists use something called R0, or R nothing, as a way to measure how a virus is spreading. For example, an R value of 1 means that the average person who is infected with the virus is expected to pass it on to someone else; a higher R means that the virus will spread exponentially.

Systrom said its site,, reports the estimated transmission rate, or Rt, for each state. The Rt metric, derived from nowhere R, seeks to measure the transmission rate in a specific population and a specific moment in time.

Appearing in “Squawk Box,” Systrom said that 34 states in the US have an estimated rate of coronavirus transmission above 1.0, defined in as an indication that the virus will spread rapidly. A value less than 1.0 suggests that the spread will stop.

“Then you have an incredible rebound,” said Systrom. “People like to say that we are not in a second wave. I don’t know what a second wave is [is] if that’s not a second wave. “

Researchers generally believe that the United States remains in the first wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. To define itself as a second wave, the virus would need to retreat and reappear, or a new variant would have to emerge, Columbia University’s Ian Lipkin told CNBC earlier this month. He added that it has not happened either.

Nevada has the highest estimated transmission rate of 1.64, according to on Monday morning. Montana and Florida have estimated transmission rates of 1.41 and 1.4, respectively. The areas with the lowest estimated rates are Connecticut and Washington DC, each with 0.77. Massachusetts is next lowest at 0.81.

‘Check many sites. Triangulate by yourself ‘

Almost two years ago, Systrom left Facebook, which acquired Instagram for $ 1 billion in 2012. Unlike Instagram, it said that is intended to be a public resource for the American public during the pandemic, giving people a Update window on how the virus is spreading in your state.

However, he emphasized that the Rt, the transmission rate, is “one metric out of many” that people should use. gets its data from the Covid Tracking Project, Systrom said. He recommended that people also trust data from the state health department. “Check a lot of sites. Triangule by itself because these are all models,” he added.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC that is valuable because it “gives you an indication of what the new cases are telling you.”

“It is very difficult to interpret from new cases that are reported on a daily basis what that means with respect to whether the epidemic is spreading or not and how fast it is spreading,” Gottlieb said in “Squawk Box,” which appeared with Systrom.

Florida saw a record 9,636 new infections on Saturday, with another 8,577 on Sunday. Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis blamed interactions between the youth on Sunday. Miami-Dade and Broward counties are closing their beaches for the weekend of July 4.

Total cases in the United States exceeded 2.55 million, according to data from Johns Hopkins University on Monday, with deaths close to 126,000. Total global cases approached 10.2 million, with more than 500,000 deaths.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and member of the boards of directors of Pfizer Tempus genetic testing start-up and biotech company Illumina