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Visualizing the Current State of COVID-19 Throughout the United States

By Justin Sorensen

2021 has arrived and with it, the continuing impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic within our daily lives. While our optimism grows for returning to normal activities as the much anticipated vaccines are distributed throughout our nation and the world, it’s important to remember that the situation is as serious today as it was almost 1-year ago. In this week’s Map Monday release, we will examine how continually updated data available through Social Explorer allows us to visualize the current state of COVID-19 throughout the United States.

Visualizing the Current State of COVID-19 Throughout the United States

For this project, we will focus on (2) types of COVID-19 data available through Social Explorer:

  • Cumulative number of confirmed cases
  • Cumulative number of deaths

At the time of this post, the United States reported over 24,000,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as well as a little more than 400,000 deaths throughout the nation. Highest among these case numbers were geographically found in Los Angeles County, California at 1,032,277 and the lowest case numbers found in Loving County, Texas at 1.

While these numbers are truly devastating when considering the individuals in which they represent, it’s important to remember that the same data visualized at different geographical levels has the ability to change how we view, examine, and perceive the same information. Let’s visualize and compare the same data at state, county, and metropolitan-levels…what do you see?

Combining all cases and deaths into a single, statewide-level depiction offers a method for visualizing states in which COVID-19 impacts are the greatest; however, a viewer’s interpretation might be that the high-levels depicted are relevant for all portions of the associated state. Comparing the same data at either a county or metropolitan-level, the data becomes dispersed and refined to identify individual areas (as opposed to a whole) of high COVID-19 cases and deaths that are contributing to the overall cumulative number.

So remember, when presenting quantitative data on a map, the geographical level being presented is key for expressing and conveying information to your viewers.

Interested in creating or collaborating on a similar project? Please visit the GIS Services website to connect with me.

Did you know as students, staff, and faculty of the University of Utah, you have free access to the tools and datasets available through Social Explorer? Check out this past blog post for additional information: Exploring Demographic Data Through Social Explorer

About Map Monday Releases from GIS Services

Throughout the semester, GIS Services will be releasing bi-weekly maps on a variety of topics, demonstrating ideas and uses for incorporating geospatial technology into projects and research you are developing. To view our collection of maps, projects, or to learn more about the geospatial services offered through the J. Willard Marriott Library, please visit the GIS Services website @

Happy Mapping!

Justin Sorensen | GIS Specialist
Creativity & Innovation Services / GIS Services

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