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Sensing the Virus / Data Visualization


MIT Graph of Fatalities

This chart depicts the number of Covid-19 fatalities in countries where we have seen the most amount of cases occur. It is evidential that the United States is currently leading with the most fatalities in the world. These astronomically high numbers were not suspected from the U.S. as it is a seemingly first world country. These staggering high numbers were reached due to a mixture of lack of preparedness as well as the underestimation of how serious and contiguous this virus is by the general public. In this chart, it is evident that the majority of the countries are “first-world” or superpower countries of the world. As stated before, most did not expect such countries to be so severely affected by the virus. These countries were purposely picked out to enact the true rawness of the coronavirus and the damages it can cause regardless of how affluent and industrialized the country may be. Additionally, the use of bold colors as well as the country's flags were intentional to further dramatize the chart. Similarly, the addition of numbers are shown to provoke more emotions of fear and panic as these numbers encompass individuals who already had pre-existing health conditions and were at risk of death with any virus they could have caught, such as the flu.

Location Data Says It All: Staying at Home During Coronavirus Is a Luxury

Everybody understands the language of money, even infectious pathogens, apparently. With social-distancing enacted everyone’s experienced drawbacks, but some feel it more than others. Namely, people who don’t have cash to spare: the working class.The jagged peaks and slopes of the graph highlight the specific differences in reaction based on class. The coronavirus has to compete for attention from those who have the pre-existing plague of poverty. It’s had much more time to seep into their bones. Even when the quarantine is at its highest, the lower class remain above the threshold they should be at during the outbreak. People in low income are slower to quarantine while the coronavirus spreads because they wish to starve to death about as much as they wish to catch COVID-19, which is obviously not at all.

Flatten The Curve

This Gif is an accessible reprsentation of the spread of the Covid-19. This is an easy guide that also shows how easily the Covid-19 virus could spread. Even if one person stays home, a family member who has been out could easily infect them. Many people are struggling to understand why social distancing is important, and they are struggling to graph just how quickly someone could get sick.  There also could be a super-spreader, an individual who is highly contagious and capable of transmitting a communicable disease to an unusually large number of uninfected individuals. An ailment such as food poisoning is infectious, it is capable of producing infection, but it is not contagious. The coronavirus, on the other hand, is both contagious and infectious. Anything that is contagious is automatically also infectious, but the reverse is not true. Both words are frequently used in a figurative manner.

Why Outbreaks Like the Coronavirus Spread Exponentially, and How to Flatten the Curve

In times of widespread crisis, it can be hard to effectively communicate information to people, especially when that information includes complex and abstract ideas. In the case of the coronavirus, initially people were struggling with how to fully render themselves sensitive to how easily the virus spreads and the magnitude of how many people could quickly become sick. In the article, the author speaks to the simplified example that the Washington Post is providing by writing, “Simulitis is not covid-19, and these simulations vastly oversimplify the complexity of real life. Yet just as simulitis spread through the networks of bouncing balls on your screen, covid-19 is spreading through our human networks — through our countries, our towns, our workplaces, our families. And, like a ball bouncing across the screen, a single person’s behavior can cause ripple effects that touch faraway people.” If people imagine themselves as a bouncing ball instead of an individual person, the concept of unintentionally hitting and hurting someone becomes a little more tangible. In the confines of every person’s individual life, it can be hard to understand how going about your day and interacting with a limited number of people can significantly impact a larger community. It can be difficult to picture how many people everyone comes into contact with every day and how each of those people also interact with others who interact with others, etc. Part of what seems more incomprehensible about the virus spread is that it does not have anything to do with intentionality. Even if people do not mean to, they can pass COVID-19 onto someone else. A bouncing ball has no intention of hitting anyone, but it often happens anyway. The simulations and graphs included in the Washington Post’s article do a wonderful job simplifying the concepts of how the virus can spread rapidly from the slightest glance of a ball and how social distancing can slow that spread, which has helped signal to people how closely everyone is truly connected. This article was published on March 14th, 2020, right around the time when COVID-19 was becoming a major topic of discussion in the news and in people’s daily lives in the United States. Having this kind of information early on most likely helped reveal the importance of how social distancing can “flatten the curve,” which was seen as very important given how exponential the rates of infection were in other countries who were further along in their timeline of exposure to the virus. By having the four simulations modeling in turn the possible effects of a free-for-all, an attempted quarantine, moderate social distancing, and an extensive social distancing, people sense how their individual actions could potentially help keep others safe or put them at risk, which hopefully sensitized them to the severity of the situation and the need to stay home. 

Global Health Indexes

This graph, which was created prior to the spread of Covid-19, is a representation of the Global Health Security Index where 195 countries are ranked by their global pandemic preparedness. The Index Score of each country was given to them based on a combination of factors falling into 6 categories; prevention, detection and reporting, rapid response, health system, compliance with international norms, and risk environment. The chart on the left is just an example of what goes into creating each individual country's index score. The graph on the right has circles representing each country with the country's flag to distinguish them and the size of the circle to represent the population relative to other countries. Someone who is glancing over this graph would easily be able to sense the position of their country, relative to others, to handle a pandemic such as the one we are currently in. This is especially important data to reflect on, given the current situation, because at this point, the virus has predominantly hit countries who are better suited to handle the pandemic such as the United States and Europe. Since we can reflect on how much damage was done to countries that are supposed to be on the more prepared side, this should clearly indicate how much support those who are in the countries on the lower end of this scale will need as it continues to progress there. The graph presents the countries very close together and could potentially encourage viewers to have a sense of unitedness between countries against the pandemic and spark sympathy towards the countries which are at a clear disadvantage.