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Last updated July 7, 2020. 2 minute read

Interpreting Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 map

Researchers at the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University have developed a web-based dashboard based on various data sources. The dashboard reports cases down to the province level in China, the city level in the US, Canada, and Australia, and the country level for all other areas.

rachel-kwon-md Written by Dr. Rachel Kwon, MD
Reviewed by Dr. Tzvi Doron, DO

Much is still unknown about severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The pool of data on how it is spread, how to test for it, and where the affected areas are geographically is growing daily, with numerous papers listed in Pubmed. It’s important to understand that any conclusions about COVID-19, including how many people have it, how likely it is to spread, and how likely it is to cause severe illness, are only as good as the data that inform them.

The map below is a screenshot of JSU’s coronavirus map with the numbers omitted. Click here to visit the live site.

Click here to see live tracker

How to interpret coronavirus data

Researchers at the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University have developed a web-based dashboard based on various data sources. The dashboard reports cases down to the province level in China, the city level in the US, Canada, and Australia, and the country level for all other areas.

The primary data source for the Johns Hopkins map is an online platform called DXY. DXY is an online community of doctors and other healthcare providers and institutions that collects reports from local media and government at the province level to estimate totals of COVID-19 cases close to real-time. Researchers also add cases manually by monitoring various Twitter feeds, online news services, and direct communications sent through DXY. Case numbers are confirmed through various health departments, including the China CDC, World Health Organization (WHO), and European CDC.

For city-level reports of COVID-19 cases in the US, Canada, and Australia, the researchers used data from the US CDC and the Canadian and Australian governments, plus various state or territory health authorities.

Reading the dashboard

In the upper right-hand corner, the number of “total recovered” vs. “total deaths” is reported. Keep in mind that these numbers may not be completely reliable because of questions about testing and because people with mild symptoms may not be getting tested. However, these maps represent some of the best available data we currently have and are subject to change quickly.