by Greg Mayer
A group at Oxford produces a website called “Our World in Data“, and they have excellent coronavirus coverage, including not just data compilations but also information of practical use. They have good to great visualizations, with very good explainers.
The data are updated daily based on WHO figures. It has a single set of authors and vetted data source. Their “Growth of cases” (third set of charts in) I find particularly useful, as it is able to show changes in the dynamics– the fact that in China and South Korea they have passed the peak. (This, of course, does not rule out a second wave of exponential growth later, as has happened with flu pandemics.)
This is a 2-week moving window, and the number of confirmed cases reflects testing dynamics, as well as disease dynamics. The charts on the site are interactive, so you really must go to the site to see the full amount of data available. The site emphasizes deaths and confirmed cases, as these are more readily defined than “cases”.
They provide data on testing, the following graph showing, for example, the relatively few tests done so far in the United States. (With the Federal government now endorsing a “do anything you want to do” strategy toward testing, this may, in the future, underestimate tests done in the US.)
The data on symptom frequency are of practical utility in evaluating whether a person needs to be seen medically (e.g., don’t run to the ER if you have the sniffles).
To answer your very practical questions about how to practice informed “social distancing”, I’ve found this article in The Atlantic, “The Dos and Don’ts of ‘Social Distancing’: Experts weigh in on whether you should cancel your dates, dinner parties, and gym sessions“, which tries to flesh out some of the CDC’s social distancing guidelines, quite useful. It is based on interviews with public health authorities, was last updated yesterday, and is free to all, as part of The Atlantic‘s free coronavirus coverage. Some highlights:
“I think it’s a hard time because many of the recommendations we’re making are about increasing the distance between people, but of course, being close to people is what makes life a pleasure,” Carolyn Cannuscio, the director of research at the Center for Public Health Initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania said in a phone call. “So this is going to be a very difficult time. No question.”
Here’s an example of the kinds of questions, and the answers given. Note that the experts don’t necessarily precisely agree.
Cannuscio: People should avoid gathering in public places. People should be at home as much as possible. The measures that have worked to get transmission under control or at least to bend the curve, in China and South Korea, have been extreme measures to increase social distancing.
Albert Ko, the chair of the epidemiology department at the Yale School of Public Health: The CDC recommendations are to keep six to 10 feet away from other people. Bottom line, there’s no absolute indication not to go to bars and restaurants, but in practicing good public health—which is kind of a responsibility for everybody in the country—really think about how we can decrease those close contacts.
Author Kaitlyn Tiffany advises:
This guide is aimed toward those who are symptom-free and not part of an at-risk group, with an addendum at the end for those in quarantine. If you are symptom-free but are over 60 years old; have asthma, heart disease, or diabetes; or are otherwise at risk, experts recommend defaulting to the most conservative response to each of these questions.
Roser, M., H. Ritchie and E. Ortiz-Ospina. 2020. Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) – Statistics and Research. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: ‘https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus’.