When The COVID Tracking Project started back in March, it was born out of an urgent need to address the lack of public data about COVID-19 testing and patient outcomes in the United States. We began the work with a few spreadsheets, a dozen or so volunteers, and very little else. Since this spring, and thanks in part to the support of our tech partners, the data we compile each day has become an invaluable resource for newsrooms and researchers, has been integrated into projects including the testing data site from Johns Hopkins, and has been cited by the White House.
We also publish data on the racial and ethnic demographics of COVID-19 patients throughout the United States in partnership with Boston University’s Antiracist Research Center and have just launched the most detailed database on COVID-19 in US long-term care centers that is available to the public. The COVID Tracking Project’s code and data repositories are all open and available on GitHub.
The work we do at The COVID Tracking Project requires not only a tremendous effort from our volunteers, but also top-notch tools to coordinate our community and publish a highly-trafficked website. This is where our wonderful partners come in. As we approach the six-month mark for this work, we would like to publicly thank our tech partners for supporting us. Without their help, we wouldn’t be able to continue to publish transparently sourced test counts and other crucial data for the United States. The following companies have donated products and services worth tens of thousands of dollars to support our efforts. Thank you to:
Algolia, for our search. Algolia has donated a Pro plan under their “We are in this together” program to support sites and projects focused on COVID-19. We use their platform to power our site’s search, which is used hundreds of thousands of times per week.
Calibre, for automated performance testing. Calibre has donated a paid plan for their performance testing platform. We use Calibre to get automated feedback on the usability, performance, and accessibility of our website. Calibre has given a small team of volunteers the tools we need to continually monitor and improve our site experience.
Contentful, for providing our content management system. Our website content is almost all housed within Contentful, which allows us to spin up new editorial features very quickly and provide structure for the extensive contextual and analytical content our teams write to explain the data we compile. Contentful's integration with Netlify allows our volunteer teams to preview and develop pages together across the many sectors of the project. You can read the full case study on Contentful's site.
Donut, for building community. Engaging our community of volunteers is a top priority for us, and Donut is an extremely useful resource for this. Donut’s onboarding flow and virtual coffees have built the foundations of our active community, and their integrations with tools such as Google Calendar and Zoom have made this work much easier. You can read more about our partnership on Donut's blog.
Headway for our API change communications. Our API is constantly evolving with the data, and we needed a simple way to notify users of changes without building a new feature into our website. Anticipating our needs, Headway donated a pro plan that helps us better inform our API consumers without a lot of technical overhead.
Netlify, for hosting our site. From the project’s very first week in early March, Netlify has been hosting our work and has remained a rock-solid resource as our site traffic climbed from zero to 25 million visitors. Netlify has donated a premium account to The COVID Tracking Project, giving us access to analytics and other paid features that allow us to build our dataset and site at maximum speed without worrying about site stability problems. Read more about it on Netlify's site.
Slack, for connecting us and giving us a home. Without Slack, we’d be nowhere. From the beginning, Slack has been the primary hub for our work, allowing us to self-organize, build teams, and establish the overall working culture for the project at crisis speed. All the way back on March 7, 2020, Slack donated a Standard plan that allows us an unlimited message archive, which is crucial to finding previous discussions and decisions about the data.
Tableau, for helping us understand and visualize our data. Tableau’s donation of Creator Desktop licenses has supercharged the data analysis that illuminates the work of our hundreds of volunteers. Our visualization team is now able to use drag-and-drop analytics to investigate crucial data stories in real time. We also use Tableau to create static and interactive graphics for our blog, website pages, and social presence—all of which have been viewed millions of times since March. Tableau wrote a case study about our partnership.
Cooperation and collaboration are crucial to responding to a pandemic, and the generosity of our partners has been fundamental to our efforts. We are grateful to these companies for contributing to the mission of providing open data to help the public better understand the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.
Though cases are rising in parts of the Midwest, hospitalizations in the West and South continued trending downward. The Labor Day holiday impacted data reporting lag times both this week and last, obscuring what had been positive trends in September.
We track and analyze data from cities and counties, including breakdowns by race, ethnicity, and ZIP code when possible. The differences we find between cities, counties, and states give useful insights into response efforts.
A long holiday weekend makes ambiguous testing data even harder to understand, but hospitalizations are dropping, which is good.