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Six maps show the effects of COVID-19 in US

The United States reported the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day on August 12. The same day the Center of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield accepted that years of underinvestment in public health infrastructure left the United States “unprepared” for the “greatest public health crisis that hit this nation” in a century. While the official numbers were somewhere around 168,000 as of August 14, New York Times estimates at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March. The NYT analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows as some people die from the virus itself, others from the upheaval it has brought. Here we look at six maps that show the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US.

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Mapping entry for US passport holdersCourtesy Gzero

The US passport, considered one of the most powerful in the world, suddenly finds all borders closed to it even as countries slowly begin to re-open their borders to foreign nationals. This map by Gzero shows that while US passport holders could travel to 183 countries without a visa prior to COVID-19, now most Americans are barred entry to all but 29 countries. Even Canada has refused to open its otherwise open borders with US, with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair saying Canada’s borders with US will remain closed for another month, till September 21. Most of the Carribbean, Mexico, the Maldives, and Turkey are open for American tourists, but require a temperature check and COVID-19 test, and some like South Korea a 14-day quarantine upon arrival. Meanwhile, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to advise Americans against all non-essential international travel.

Mapping the futureCourtesy Columbia University

Researchers at Columbia University have developed an interactive mapping tool, COVID-19 Risk Mapping, that seeks to project the number of COVID-19 cases in the US. As states started reopening from May 4 and begun to ease restrictions, the project seeks to evaluate the effects of loosening stay-at-home orders to forecast possible scenarios of COVID case counts by estimating R values (the average number of people who will contract COVID-19 from one infected person) and changes in social distancing measures. The tool also estimates the impact of the projected numbers on local health care facilities and highlights high-risk counties with large populations over the age of 65 and with preexisting health conditions. 

Mapping the masksCourtesy New York TImes

WHO and all public health officials have been emphasizing over the fact that masks can substantially slow transmission of the COVID-19 virus and that face coverings work best if they are adopted widely. While more than 20 states in the US now require citizens to wear masks, it is not uniform all across. This map from New York Times shows the odds of five out of five people in a given area wearing masks. The map, which uses information from global data and security firm Dynata, reveals that mask use is high in the Northeast and the West but is not as commonly practiced in the Plains and much of the South. There are more fine-grained local differences. For instance, face coverings are widely worn in the District of Columbia, but not so in some sections of the suburbs in both Maryland and Virginia. In St. Louis and its western suburbs, mask use seems to be high, but across the Missouri River, it falls.

Mapping unemployment benefits Courtesy APM Research Lab

The pandemic no doubt has had a devastating effect on the American economy. This online map by Marketplace and APM Research Lab shows the varying average weekly unemployment benefits states wise. Since different states and cities are formulating the benefits that a citizen may receive, unemployment benefits vary across the country. The map also provides the average cost of rent per state to contextualize the cost-of-living. Data for this map was gathered from the July 30th Labor Department report.

Mapping immigrant access to healthcareCourtesy Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative

COVID-19 is having a disproportionate impact on the immigrants with their chance of getting sick being more and access to healthcare less. This interactive map by the Berkeley Interdisciplinary Migration Initiative visualizes at-risk immigrant populations, including foreign-born without health insurance or living under the poverty line, and access to healthcare in the United States. The map uses data from the New York Times, data on health clinics and hospitals from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and demographic data from the American Community Survey (5-year 2018 estimates). Interestingly, immigrants are more likely to be engaged in critical occupations such as healthcare, eldercare, food services, daycare, delivery services, and agriculture — jobs that have been deemed essential services. 

Mapping the risk at schoolsCourtesy New York Times

As the new academic year approaches, this map by The New York Times shows that large parts of the country are likely to see infected students carrying the virus back to schools. The map uses estimates from a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. The highest-risk areas include Miami and Fort Lauderdale in Florida, Nashville, Tennessee, and Las Vegas, Nevada, where at least five students or staff would be expected to show up infected in a school of 500 people. According to the study, the statistics reflect the rapid spread of the virus in affected areas where more than 1 in 70 are estimated to be currently infected.

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