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 West Virginia. 

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.

West Virginia saw a surge in COVID-19 infections since October. The state had 85,000 cases by the end of 2020. In January this year, the state recorded another 36,000 infections and by the month’s end, West Virginia had a total of 121,001 cases and 2,024 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. A recent decline in coronavirus-related hospitalizations reduced the number of beds occupied. However, hospitals in some counties still run at more than 90% capacity.

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.

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 the state level, and 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.