COVID-19 is making history in a lot of ways, and one of those is how much data is now instantly and publicly available via the Internet. They’re mostly effective as a birds-eye view of the situation, but if you have a critical decision to make or feel like tracking the coronavirus to watch the pandemic creep slowly closer, you have a wide variety of sites and apps to choose from.
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
This is probably the premier COVID-19 data dashboard available right now, as it uses both automatically-updating data sources and manual contributions from all over the world. Data sources include the World Health Organization, the U.S. CDC, the European CDPC, the Chinese National Health Commission, local media reports, local health departments, and the DXY, which is a Chinese online healthcare community. The data is maintained around the clock (in almost real time), is open-sourced on GitHub, and even has an embed code readily available if you want to use it on your site. A lot of other sites below actually use this as a source.
Our World in Data
If you’re a statistics nerd, you already know this website well, and it’s living up to expectations with the COVID-19 outbreak. The site gives deep insights into the global situation and how individual countries are contributing to trends. It even covers topics like symptoms, severity, underlying health conditions, comparisons to the seasonal flu, growth rate, and the reliability of different data sources. This is essentially your one-stop shop for understanding the stats behind everything else you read.
Worldometers is a bit like a simplified dashboard version of the Our World in Data site and is a great place to keep general tabs on what we know. It’s frequently updated with the latest news and stats, showing a handy feed of which countries are reporting new cases and instituting measures like border closings and lockdowns. Don’t just stick to the main page, though! Follow the links and bounce around their site to find all kinds of other constantly-updating stats and graphs about COVID-19.
HGIS Lab (University of Washington)
The default view for this tracker is a map, but what sets it apart is the option to toggle it over to a “Situational Heatmap,” which shows you the general condition of different countries using different-sized squares ranging from shades of red (bad) to green (good). Clicking on the countries also shows some statistics on infection and death rates on the side panel. Its map view is also nice, though, as it provides a very clear picture of which countries are infected and which ones aren’t.
TrackCorona draws from the same reliable data sources as the other sites listed but stands out for its sleek design. If you like your pandemic trackers simple and easy on the eyes, this is the way to go. It also allows you to switch between a variety of data visualizations.
Healthmap – While its data is a bit behind, it has the option to animate the progress of the disease from its beginnings in Wuhan to the present day.
University of Virginia Biocomplexity Institute – This tracker map is a little behind with the real-time updates, but it’s especially interesting for its ability to show disease progression by both country and selected date. It also gives you the option to query the dataset they’re drawing from and download the results.
Milken Institute – This tracker is different in that it’s actually just a spreadsheet keeping track of progress being made towards COVID-19 treatments. It’s not the easiest to read, but it’s worth it if you’re interested in keeping abreast of the science.
Bing’s COVID-19 Map – A great place to get a broad overview of what’s happening in the world. It’s light on details, but that makes it very intuitive and easy to use.
European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control – One of the most reliable data sources on the pandemic. Most of the tools listed above draw some of their data from here.
WHO – Also a very reliable primary source used by many of the other trackers.
Pandemic data you can trust
Most of the COVID-19 tracking projects have been open-sourced, which is a big step in terms of transparency and reliability. The final stats still depend on a few core agencies collecting and publishing data, but with universities and websites putting their methodologies up for inspection, it helps guarantee that the public-facing COVID-19 information is at least sticking to the facts as best as we know them.
The sites above are all drawing from reliable primary data sources and are therefore fairly trustworthy, but as always, there are websites and people looking to capitalize on the panic, and, therefore, it’s always worth double-checking whatever you read before you act on it or spread the data. It’s easier to do than it’s ever been!