by Rachel Massaro

NY Times COVID-19 map

One of the most important roles we play at the Institute for Regional Studies is collecting data, aggregating it on the regional level, and providing it to the community at large. We’ll continue to play this role through the COVID-19 crisis, tracking indicators like unemployment, real estate, and many others. However, the tracking of coronavirus case counts by location is happening all over the place – by county public health departments, federal and state agencies, international organizations, news media, search engines, and other open access trackers.

Which ones are the most helpful? Clear? Easy to use? Here’s my take on a handful of the (many!) maps out there:

The New York Times: Has both case tracking maps and maps of stay-at-home orders by state at different points in time. Super user-friendly and clear, crisp maps that can be toggled between case counts, cases per capita, and deaths by country and U.S. location; uses reliable data sources from federal, state, and local sources, is updated often, and provides data downloads through GitHub. The New York Times also provides, as would be expected, related news, photos, and financial market data all through the same Coronavirus Outbreak section of its website.

San Francisco Chronicle (View Map): Covers all of California, based on state and local data. The map is beautiful and updated often, but the coolest thing about this site is the infographic “Snapshot of cases in the Bay Area by county” which visualizes the progression of new cases by each Bay Area county over time. There are charts for hospitalizations in the state, as well as testing on the state level. The page also has a drop down of case counts BY CITY within each Bay Area county, so this is probably the best source for granular, local data (other than going to each individual county health dashboard, of course). No downloadable data, though.

Google (View Map): Uses Wikipedia (user-input) data. Useful to compare countries and states in terms of case counts and deaths, but doesn’t have all counties within each state. Also includes links to recent news articles.

World Health Organization (View Map): The map is okay for country-level data – it’s a highly reputable source and up-to-date. The best feature here is actually the charts below the map, which include a stacked bar chart of global cases by country. There seem to be some data gaps, though, and the data isn’t downloadable.

Johns Hopkins University & Medicine (View Map): Data is assembled into one tidy dashboard above the fold. Includes confirmed cases as well as the number of people tested by country and state, and additional trackers like cumulative case counts, fatality rates, outbreak animations and insight reports.

The COVID Tracking Project: Not a map, but it should be included here. It’s a collaborative effort and intense data dashboard for both hospital data (facilities, beds, patients…) and public health data such as case counts and deaths. Data are by city and county, and are limited to California; includes patients who tested positive, and also suspected cases, plus some demographic information. While data is not directly downloadable from the dashboard, the COVID Tracking Project provides much of it here.

There are many more COVID-19 maps out there, all with their own advantages and drawbacks. My advice – pay attention to the data sources, always check the date stamp to know if it’s up-to-date, and/or use the resources above keeping in mind the caveats I mentioned for each one.

About the Author

Rachel Massaro is the Vice President at Joint Venture as well as the Director of Research at Joint Venture's Silicon Valley Institute for Regional Studies . You can learn more about Rachel on her bio page.

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