Is it getting better yet?

An optimistic visual guide to the Coronavirus pandemic

As the apocalypse rumbles on, I found myself wondering "Is it getting any better?"

Daily updates of spiralling case numbers (and worse, deaths) does little to give a sense of whether we're getting to, or already past, the worst of it.

To answer that question for myself and you, I put together Is it getting better yet? an optimistic visual guide to the pandemic.

The world map

The colours indicate the current status of each country, ranging from green indicating numbers are falling, through yellow (early indications of slowing), red (numbers are increasing) to purple which indicates early signs of a rebound (a return to increasing cases/deaths). Many countries have too few registered cases to make an estimation, and these are shown in grey.

The key

Things are getting better in Italy (and have been for a while).

Status card Italy

Italy changing case rates

"Maybe" is an optimistic indicator of a slowing down in case numbers and is triggered as the rate slope begins to trend back towards zero (no daily increase or decrease). This is based on the pattern that cases will tend to slow before they begin to decrease.

Status card United States

United States changing cases rates

The pattern of recovering countries is for the daily change to fall into negative numbers (fewer per day) and then correct back towards zero. The move of the line upwards doesn't indicate things are getting worse, just that the daily decrease is slowing. This is normal, as the number of daily cases falls, the absolute change will shrink.

In an ideal situation the line should trend towards zero and stop there, indicating there is no daily increase/decrease, because nobody has the virus.

Austria changing case rates

In a less than ideal situation the line will trend towards zero and then rebound over it, as a second (or third) wave of cases hits, as in China below.

China changing case rates

Status card China

This coincides with China reporting the highest number of new cases in 5 weeks. This pattern of falling and rebounding will probably happen elsewhere as lockdowns are lifted. Still, if all goes to plan, the map will gradually turn green (and a bit grey) all over. Let's look forward to that.1

Data from the Our World in Data, processed using Pandas and plotted with matplotlib and GeoPandas. The source code used to generate the site is available, suggestions and additions welcome.

  1. It didn't go to plan.