Early in the spring semester, when it was still possible for people in the U.S. to wonder whether the coronavirus outbreak would come here with the same force it had in China, Yuansun (Sonny) Jiang already knew how fast events could change.
“Having family in China, the impacts of this disease really had a personal impact even before the effects were felt here in the U.S.,” says Jiang, a Master’s student pursuing a degree in Quantitative Economics.
Jiang knew he didn’t want to sit idly by as the disease began to spread. Using the skills he was learning in Prof. Oskar Harmon’s Writing and Communication for Economics and Business graduate course, Jiang began assembling the COVID-19 Connecticut Data Visualization website, where he daily charts the pandemic’s course both here in Connecticut and across the country.
“Being able to gauge how the disease is spreading without the hype from social media and sensational articles was really important to me,” Jiang says.
Using data from the state, Jiang tracks not only the latest number of confirmed coronavirus diagnoses by county, but charts how they’ve grown since March 12. The stark upward trajectory of cases in Fairfield County, which as of March 31 had 1,445 confirmed diagnoses, is particularly sobering.
The clarity and ease of use of Jiang’s site are “all the more impressive given that he is a graduate student just learning skills in data visualization,” Harmon wrote in an email.
Jiang also tracks the course of the pandemic across the United States, using data from Johns Hopkins University. Ultimately, he says, understanding where the disease is spreading, and how fast it’s spreading, will provide valuable insight for policymakers and the public.
“I hope it will help people get an accurate sense of how this disease is spreading in our community and also throughout the world,” Jiang says. “With this data and analysis of public policy in different countries, we can see which governments are taking effective action, and try to gauge just how effective they are relative to other countries.”