Unexpectedly Intriguing!
March 18, 2020

Can you tell, quickly, how many coronavirus cases have been reported in the state of Washington in the following data visualization? Is that more or less than New York? How about California?

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Dashboard Map

This map is a screenshot we snapped on 17 March 2020 of the dashboard map at Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, which is one of the leading sources of public information about the progression of the coronavirus pandemic. The odds are that unless you already knew the answers to the questions we asked at the beginning, you wouldn't be able to answer them just from looking at the map as presented.

To be fair, the map is designed to visualize the progression of cases around the world, not just in the U.S. The map's designer did provide the means to get the information however. Since the map is an interactive one at the Johns Hopkins site, you could click on the circles that appear above each of these states to get the data, zooming in to get to your state of interest where the circles overlap each other at the scale we showed above, but doing so will take multiple steps to access the data. There must be a simpler way to visualize the daily snapshot of this data to allow the data for one state to be quickly compared with others.

That's why we've developed the following simply bar chart comparing each state's reported number of confirmed cases, deaths, and recovered patients, which we'll update periodically until the total number of cases has stabilized.


It's basic, but it works. And for what it's worth, if you're looking for coronavirus maps the U.S., there are many very bad examples. Check out this map from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, which was flagged on the Crappy Design subreddit:

The good news is the CDC has since fixed the color scale problem of their map. It's still not terribly useful, but that's the government for you.


Adding a second chart to present the numeric data from the first chart as a percent of each state or territory's 2019 estimated population:


Data Sources

2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Data Repository by Johns Hopkins CSSE. CSSE COVID-19 Time Series Data: Confirmed. [CSV File].

2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Data Repository by Johns Hopkins CSSE. CSSE COVID-19 Time Series Data: Recovered. [CSV File].

2019 Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 (2019-nCoV) Data Repository by Johns Hopkins CSSE. CSSE COVID-19 Time Series Data: Deaths. [CSV File].

U.S. Census Bureau. Annual Estimates of the Resident Pouplation for the United States, Regions, States, and Puerto Rico: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2019 (NST-EST2019-02). [Excel Spreadsheet]. Last updated 30 December 2019. Accessed 14 March 2020.

The COVID Tracking Project. Most Recent Data. [CSV File].

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