PHN Explores: Tracking the Outbreak-Who is getting tested?

Resource: The COVID Tracking Project
(A partnership of The Atlantic magazine and an ad hoc coalition of data analysts and others)

PHN Content By Mat Edelson

Why You Should Care

The COVID Tracking Project is the best source we’ve found for tracking the number of Covid-19 tests done in each state. The more people tested in your state, the greater confidence we think you can have that your state’s health officials are working hard to find out who is infected.



Finding information on the site is fairly easy, probably because journalists conceived the site with the public in mind. Our only qualm is that the site’s numbers aren’t sourced from an academic medical institution. Rather, they come from the energetic efforts of a large ad hoc group of data miners. They’re sifting through, in their website’s words, information from “state/district/territory public health authorities—or occasionally, from trusted news reporting, official press conferences, or (very occasionally) tweets or Facebook updates from state public health authorities or governors.”

All sources are cited, and The Covid Tracking Project’s data has been used by the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other major journalism outlets. We’d have a tad more confidence in the project if many of the workers’ bios linked us to resumes or CV’s instead of their twitter pages. However, the site’s data tracks very closely with Johns Hopkins, it’s updated daily, they grade each state’s quality of data, they offer links for the public to find their state’s best tracking data…in all, it’s a very formidable and much appreciated effort.