October 5th, 2021 - another day in the global pandemic. Average Joes are busy tweeting about it, politicians give interviews on the latest plans, and newspapers publish article after article on vaccination levels, case counts, and the booster shot. That’s a ton of information. So much in fact, that it would be pretty nice to have some computer assisted help to sort through it. Enter stage right: text analysis. Just what is it, and in the midst of COVID-19, how can it be used to advance public health? Text analysis is a family of analytic techniques used to identify patterns and meaning from unstructured text, that is, text that a computer can’t readily understand. Aka, most qualitative data. And there is a lot of that sort of data floating around. We’re talking tweets, Reddit posts, and emails, but also electronic health records (EHRs), books, and even academic research. You’ll probably agree that in that list alone, there’s a lot of valuable data!