Brock Thibodeaux was the 48th person in the country to test positive for the coronavirus.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate was living in the Seattle area having just begun working for Microsoft when the first cases were reported in the United States there. He lived near the Life Care Center nursing home, which became the first hotspot for the virus with at one point 81 of the 120 residents testing positive, leading to 31 deaths.

He recalled a walk to Walgreens when the dry cough began — “It felt like eating a bunch of Pringles with no water in your body” — before other symptoms followed. He went to the emergency room, got tested and sent home to recover before getting the call that he tested positive.

“Two weeks on the couch and my temperature averaged 102, 104, 103,” Thibodeaux said. “February 28 was when I literally thought I was going to die. I woke up and I couldn’t breathe. I had been hallucinating because my fever was so high. I’m having really, really vivid hallucinatory bad dreams. It was bad.”

It was that time at home and watching the virus spread around the country, including in New Orleans after Mardi Gras, and the responses to the virus that Thibodeaux, a former U.S. Army Ranger, decided he had to do something to help.

Thibodeaux, who earned a graduate certificate in cybersecurity from Harvard University’s extension school, eventually landed $25 million in venture capital funding for his technology startup company that gathers hospital data and other data and can follow where cases are, where the hot spots are and predicts where the next outbreak is going to happen.

His startup,, has five employees and is currently housed at the Opportunity Machine.

“It’s basically a huge decision-maker,” he said. “You punch in a bunch of information at once. If you had COVID right now and went into the ER, you live down the street, you’re going to walk your dog every day maybe. Or this is the area you’ve been in the past week. Or let’s say your mom lives in Abbeville. Let’s say all the hospitals are owned by the same company.

“We look at patterns at that ER, put that all in a big decision maker, and once it punches out information, it builds algorithms. And over time, it says, OK, this is what could happen.”

But right now his technology is looking for a home. Thibodeaux says the technology can be used in the oil and gas sector in finding where to drill next.

“We’re going to get there, man, but the whole idea was to start right here,” he said. “I wanted to be in Lafayette. It’s going to take time. We’ve got solutions. Once we get it started, it’s going to be nice.”

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