7 Trustworthy COVID-19 Data Sources Journalists Should Be Using

by April 10, 2020
COVID-19 is a global pandemic that health workers and disease specialists are learning more about everyday. Make sure you’re using the most up-to-date and trustworthy sources to best serve your readers. Photo credit to Pexels

With the rise of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., business reporters may be having to quickly adapt to writing health stories. But with people across the world speaking out, writing about and analyzing a virus that experts are still trying to understand, misinformation can easily spread.

Responsible journalists who don’t want to be a part of the problem can be a part of the solution by using trustworthy sources. To help get you started on your next COVID-19 story, here’s a list of verified data sources you can use to find stories to share with your community. 

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME)

The University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation regularly updates its COVID-19 model, which has been cited by the White House. IHME’s report projects peak hospital resource usage —  in terms of beds and ventilators — to hit around April 10. This projection has helped hospitals know when they should expect to be at peak capacity.

Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University also has a well-cited COVID-19 model, which shows stats from around the world. As of April 1, the worldwide number of cases had surpassed one million. The map is updated multiple times a day. 

USA facts

As you can guess from its name, USA Facts gives a closer look at cases by state and counties in the U.S. As of April 4, New York had over 103,000 cases, more than any other state. Across the country, there’s been a total of about 277,000 confirmed cases and 7,050 dates. But that’s changing by the hour so check for updates.

Covidtracking.com

This COVID-19 tracking project was started by two journalists from The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer and Alexis Madrigal, as well as Jeff Hammerbacher, the founder and general partner at Related Science. Now, Madrigal leads 100 volunteers with backgrounds in data to keep the site up. They said they will keep the project going until “national sources take over and publish comprehensive testing and outcomes data.”

Most of the information on covidtracking.com is from state, district, and territory public health authorities. However, the site will sometimes also include data from press conferences, “trusted news reporting,” or social media posts from state public health authorities or governors. All of its sources are listed in a spreadsheet on the site. 

State health department

Instead of relying on other sites to collect, organize and analyze data from your state, you could try to collect it yourself. While state health departments are obviously busy and could be tied up, you can try to find a connection that can give you the latest data. They may be able to tell you additional information not seen on sites like USA Facts.

World Health Organization 

The World Health Organization’s COVID-19 landing page gives a good general overview for cases worldwide, travel advice, popular Q&As, and media resources. 

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

And, of course, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention is a top source if you’re looking to give advice to readers about how to stay safe and healthy. This page of the CDC also offers daily updates on cases in the U.S.  

While these are trustworthy sites, always be sure that you know what each data set is showing so that you aren’t spreading inaccurate information to readers or comparing data sets that aren’t the same. For example, be sure you know whether a data set is showing reported or confirmed cases.

This is an unusual time for journalists everywhere, but also perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to report on a global pandemic. More than ever, our readers need us to pursue difficult stories and to find new ways to explain and share them.