New Johns Hopkins map breaks down COVID-19 data by county, shows demographic information

Posted at 6:13 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 18:30:38-04

BALTIMORE — A new Johns Hopkins University online map shows a break down of cases by county, as well as important demographic information to help communities and policy makers better understand what portions of the population are most affected by COVID-19 and where more resources are needed.

Counties are now ranked by cases and deaths, and you can zero in on every county in the U.S. to see its local dashboard of information that includes stay at home policies and effective dates, the number of deaths, and race, ethnicity, poverty, population and health insurance dat to show who is being most affected.

"What are people’s access to health care? What are their underlying health conditions? Do they have the kind of vulnerabilities that may make them more inclined to suffer severe disease or experience death?" said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

The data also shows the health care capacity of each area; for instance, the number of ICU beds available.

"If there are limited ICU beds then we may need to think as case numbers are rising in that community, how we can expand access in that community or potentially think about reallocating our resources else where," said Nuzzo.

On a broader level, it shows where outbreaks are happening to better track the spread.

"Not all communities are affected evenly and not all communities are affected at the same time and so when we think about making decisions about where to deploy our resources. Understanding what parts of the country are most heavily hit and what parts of the country may have additional resources is quite important to do that," said Nuzzo.

Experts said the data should also be used when determining when stay at home orders can be lifted.

"If we make decisions to open too early we could suffer very serious consequences about this. No community is an island. Communities are going to be affected by the cases that are around them," said Nuzzo.

There are some limitations to this map because it's all form publicly-available data. Experts said a shortage in testing skews the percentage of reported cases that have died. It would lower if everyone could be tested. The fatality rates and death count are based off of known COVID-19 cases, and don't include deaths that are suspicious of being caused by the disease but were not/have not been tested because of the shortage.

Hopkins also created a global map to track the outbreak on a much larger scale. That inspired this national map.