After more than three years of daily reporting on the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in every county in the United States, The New York Times is ending its Covid data gathering operation. We will continue to publish our Covid tracking pages for the United States, including data for every state and county, using the latest information available from the C.D.C.
We’re taking this step because state and local health agencies are now reporting their data less frequently and less reliably, making the comprehensive real-time reporting that was the hallmark of The Times’s dataset no longer possible. At the same time, the data offered by the federal government has become more consistent and is now the only source of that information for parts of the country.
A team of reporters from National and Graphics first started tracking individual coronavirus cases in early 2020. The effort quickly grew, pulling in people from across the newsroom. They reported around the clock to collect data from every U.S. county. More people were enlisted to write and maintain hundreds of custom computer scripts to assemble the data from local health agencies that had begun publishing their daily case numbers.
In the absence of reliable county data from the federal government for the first year of the pandemic, we made our data available to the public, beginning in March 2020. Since then, it has been used extensively by academic and public health researchers, cited in hundreds of scientific papers, featured on Google’s Covid dashboards, and was central to The Times winning the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The virus tracking pages have been viewed more than one billion times.
More than 160 people from 12 departments across The Times contributed to reporting and displaying this critical public health data over the last three years. The work was as grueling and exacting as it was monumental. The project’s success and wide impact are a testament to the team’s hard work, and reflect The Times’s commitment to helping the public navigate the pandemic.
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