Coronavirus Health

The Ohio Valley ReSource has added new measures to its COVID Data Tracker, including a county-level map of infection hot spots, indicators of hospital capacity, and a demographic breakdown of cases and deaths. These new functions provide a more in-depth view of the spread of the infections in Kentucky.

Suhail Bhat | Ohio Valley ReSource

This map shows county-by-county hot spots, infection spread, case burden, positivity rates and deaths per capita. The data shows that a majority of counties in the state still remain in what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls ‘sustained hot spots,’ meaning these counties are seeing a high number of cases per capita that could potentially put a great deal of pressure on the local health care system.

Kentucky saw a surge in COVID-19 infections since October. The commonwealth crossed the first 100,000 cases in nearly eight months since its first reported infection.

It took only another month or so for the state to log another 100,000 cases, and by the end of 2020 the state had more than 260,000 coronavirus cases and 2,662 deaths.

Suhail Bhat | Ohio Valley ReSource

The ReSource added hospital occupancy data to the tracker building on its previous coverage about how the surge in cases since October put hospitals under tremendous strain, particularly impacting rural care. The current data shows that due to a decline in the coronavirus-related hospitalizations, the shares of beds occupied has gone down. However, hospitals in some counties still run at more than 90% capacity.

The updated tracker also shows the positive cases and deaths by race that confirm the broader research that the coronavirus disproportionately affected people of color.  

Suhail Bhat | Ohio Valley ReSource

The new tracker includes some charts based on calculations drawn from the state’s reported case numbers in order to provide a better understanding of the impact the virus is having.

For example, the chart on the ratio of cases and deaths gives a sense of historical changes in death rate. The 14-day positivity rate reduces variations in data and presents a clearer picture of the virus. The chart of hospitalizations now incorporates data on the number of patients on ventilators.

Suhail Bhat | Ohio Valley ReSource

As the states are rolling out more vaccine doses, the ReSource added those numbers to the tracker as well.  

The data tracker update we launched in November provides a host of daily updates at state level, but the new tracker complements that by adding county-level graphics. 

Our tracker tools and all ReSource stories on the coronavirus pandemic can be found at YourCovidReSource.org.

Suhail Bhat is a data journalist and 2020 graduate of the Data Journalism program at Columbia Journalism School. Before attending Columbia, he was a correspondent at Reuters, where he covered Asian corporate news and Wall Street for four years.