My New Favorite COVID-19 Dashboard

TL;DR I’m now using this dashboard as a way to make sense of what’s happening with COVID-19. It’s still too soon to draw any conclusions about how well the U.S.’s interventions overall are working.

I started trying to make sense of the COVID-19 growth rate data myself on March 13, 16 days ago. I learned a lot along the way, and my daily ritual of looking up numbers and updating my spreadsheet has been strangely calming. Here’s my latest graph:

Three observations when comparing this to last week’s graph:

  1. Italy’s growth rate seems to be flattening, which is a positive sign
  2. U.S.’s growth curve continues to rise at a steady rate; more on this below
  3. Even though China and Korea’s growth rates have been steady for a while now, it’s not zero. They have this under control (for now), but it’s far from over, and it won’t be until we have a vaccine, which folks keep saying is at least 12-18 months away.

My friend, Scott Foehner, chided me last week for saying that the results are lagging by about a week. He’s right. Based on Tomas Pueyo’s analysis (which I cited in my original blog post), the lag is more like 12 days. This is why the Bay Area shelter-in-place ordinance was for three weeks — that’s how much time you need to see if you’re containing your growth rate.

Shelter-in-place in the Bay Area started on March 17, exactly 12 days ago and four days after I started tracking. California’s order started on March 20. Other states followed after that, but not all.

It’s hard to make sense of all this when aggregated as a country. I’ve been wanting regional data for a while now, but have felt too overwhelmed to parse it out myself. Fortunately, other people have been doing this.

One of the positive outcomes of me doing this for myself for the past few weeks is that it’s given me a better sense of how to interpret other people’s graphs, and it’s helped me separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s also made me realize how poor data literacy seems to be for many media outlets, including major ones. They’re contributing to the problem by overwhelming people with graphs that are either not relevant or are not contextualized.

One media outlet that’s been doing a great job, in my opinion, has been The Financial Times, thanks to John Burn-Murdoch. Inspired by John’s work, Wade Fagen-Ulmschneider has produced this excellent dashboard, which has provided me exactly what I’ve wanted. (Hat tip to Rashmi Sinha.) I may stop updating my spreadsheet as a result, although I might miss the ritual too much.

Wade’s dashboard is pretty configurable overall, although you have limited control over which region’s data you’re showing. Here’s the closest equivalent to what I’ve been tracking:

And here’s what I’ve really wanted to see: the state-by-state data:

What does this tell us about the interventions so far? Again, not much. It’s too soon. Check back in another week.

I’ve seen some articles floating around with graphs comparing California to New York, crowing that sheltering-in-place is already working here. That may be the case, but it’s still too early for us to know that, and it’s irresponsible to point to a chart and suggest that this is the case. There are lots of reasons why New York might be doing so poorly compared to California that have nothing to do with interventions, density being the obvious one. Regardless, history has proven that even a few days can make a huge difference when it comes to containing epidemics, and I feel incredibly grateful that our local leaders acted as quickly as they did.

I think there are two questions that are on people’s minds. One is about hospital capacity. I’ve seen various attempts to model this, including the Covid Act Now site I mentioned last week. The one I find easiest to browse is this dashboard from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. They publish their model, which I haven’t even attempted to parse yet. (I doubt that I have the expertise to evaluate it anyway.) It suggests that, even if our current measures have flattened the curve in California, we’ll still exceed our capacity of ICU beds needed in about two weeks, although we should be okay in terms of general hospital capacity.

The second question is how much longer we’ll need to shelter-in-place (or worse). Even if we flatten the curve, lifting shelter-in-place will just get that curve going again unless we have an alternative way of managing it (e.g. test-and-trace). I haven’t seen any indications of when that will happen, so we’ll just have to continue to be patient. I feel like every day is a grind, and I’m one of the lucky ones. I can’t imagine how folks on the frontlines and those far less fortunate than me are dealing right now.

Web Montag, November 7, Cologne, Germany

I met Tim Bonneman at the Collaborative Technologies Conference in New York last June. He had just moved to the Bay Area, and had experienced only a taste of the energy and passion of the area. Almost half a year later, that taste is now total immersion.    (JZI)

In the spirit of WikiWednesday, Bar Camp, and all the other impromptu gatherings that have been cropping up like fruit flies, Tim Bonneman has organized WebMontag in Cologne, Germany, next Monday, November 7. Already, over 50 people have signed up. Looks like it will be a great gathering.    (JZJ)

Collaborative Technologies Conference (CTC 2005), June 19-24 in NY

The first Collaborative Technologies Conference (CTC 2005) will be held next month, June 19-24, at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in New York. The lineup looks great, and I’m not just saying that because I’m on the advisory board.    (ISE)

I’ll be giving a talk entitled, “Patterns of High-Performance Collaboration (or How to Collaborate Without Really Trying).” I’ll also be moderating two panels: one on lightweight tools and one on open source tools. While there’s overlap between the two, they’re certainly not equivalent concepts, and I think folks will be surprised by one participant on the lightweight panel in particular.    (ISF)

I’ll have more to say on the conference in the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out Arieanna Foley‘s very flattering interview with me on the conference blog. Also, if you’re planning to register for the conference, feel free to use the Blue Oxen Associates discount code: MLBYCN01. Hope to see you all in New York next month!    (ISG)

Music City, Here I Am

Arrived in Nashville on Saturday for the MGTaylor Seven Domains Workshop, a meeting of the minds of many of those tied to the MGTaylor community. I’m working the workshop this week, then am spending a week driving in a circle to Cincinnati, St. Louis, and back to Nashville. If you have suggestions for places to visit along the way — especially interesting towns off the main road — let me know. Also drop me an email if you’re in the area and would like to get together.    (1NE)

My flight was largely uneventful, other than a stopover in Charlotte, my first time in North Carolina. I have this ongoing argument with several of my friends over how long you need to be in a state in order to qualify as actually having been there. We generally agree that stopovers don’t count, although after today, I may have to challenge that rule. Walking through the concourse towards my connecting flight, I couldn’t resist stopping for a pulled pork sandwich. Eating the local cuisine has to count for something, even if it’s at the airport.    (1NF)

You can actually get a decent sense of the local culture from airports. Several of the clerks were listening to bluegrass and country music behind their counters. White rocking chairs lined the entire concourse.    (1NG)

In addition to the sandwich, I tasted hush puppies — fried corn bread — and a fried pickle for the first time. It’s commonly acknowledged that everything tastes good deep-fried. Southerners go out of their way to prove this point.    (1NH)

Not only did barbecue feature prominently throughout the airport, there were also a few local fast food joints. I’m not that into fast food, but I like seeing what different places have to offer. Despite the ongoing conglomeration of most restaurants, even chains retain their local feel. I remember visiting D.C. when I was a kid, and being amazed at the fact that they had different fast food places — Roy Rogers in particular — than California. It’s not just childhood nostalgia, though. Thinking about the first time I had White Castle, after hearing my old boss constantly raving about it, makes me laugh. You haven’t truly experienced New York unless you’ve had White Castle at 3am in the middle of Queens.    (1NI)

After arriving in Nashville, I hopped on over to Ted’s Montana Grill to meet the other Knowledge Workers who are also working the workshop this week. Good people, all. I also enjoyed the bison short ribs. Bison is the specialty of the house, and Ted is Ted Turner.    (1NJ)

Afterwards, Jeff Johnston and Kati Thompson took me to the Station Inn for some buds and bluegrass, where we heard a great band — David Peterson and 1946. Definitely enjoyed the night out in Nashville; hoping there’ll be time for more of the same throughout the week.    (1NK)