KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Peter Carnesciali is the mastermind behind KC Vaccine Watch, a Twitter account originally designed to point locals to nearby COVID-19 vaccination sites.
He is back on the grid after deactivating the account and taking a few months off.
"I never ended up reactivating it for boosters because it was still easy enough to find them," Carnesciali said. "But as testing appointments have become really hard to find recently, I have had some people ask me if I can make a bot to help them find a COVID test."
This prompted him to change course. He adapted the existing bot he created to find COVID-19 vaccination sites into a bot that looks for COVID-19 testing instead.
His coding now detects available appointments at local CVS locations for the next few days, recognizes canceled appointments and tweets out the information for his followers.
"It chooses like the state, the type of the test and the location of it and it tells you when the appointment is available," Carnesciali said. "It is frustrating for people because they’ll see the tweet, click it and see nothing is available. So it looks like the bot isn't working, but in reality, it just means that someone else took it faster."
Carnesciali says he had as many as 28,000 followers at one point but lost a lot of them when COVID-19 cases subsided. Since changing his account for COVID-19 testing, he has gained some back amid the new omicron surge.
"So it was at 20.1, but since making tests, it's grown to 20.3," Carnesciali said. "That’s about as many as T-Mobile fits."
But for him, it is not about the number of followers he has. He hopes his creativity will encourage others to meet the moment and use their talents to step up in times of need.
"I manage a team of engineers that we write code like this on a daily basis," Carnesciali said. "It was a problem that I saw that I knew a way to solve it."
After spending hundreds of hours to launch the tools, he says the account is now self-sustaining.
And while the road to get here had challenges of its own, Carnesciali said, "It’s been really cool to see people tell me how much they appreciate it and how much it meant to them."