Best and Worst Places to Be in Covid

Country/area: United States

Organisation: Bloomberg

Organisation size: Big

Publication date: 24 Oct 2020

Credit: By Jinshan Hong, Rachel Chang and Kevin Varley; Developed by Jeremy Diamond

Project description:

The Bloomberg Covid Resilience Ranking is a comprehensive tool to assess which of the biggest 53 economies in the world are tackling the coronavirus with the least amount of social and economic disruption.

Impact reached:

The findings are a snapshot of how the world has changed in the Covid-19 era, reflecting the success of places in the Asia-Pacific region in containing and managing the threat, and the surprise underperformance of the U.S. and Europe. It tells readers where to look for the best and worst Covid strategies, with data-points shifting as the circumstances and focus of the pandemic changes. With many of the measures adjusting in real time, readers are able to discern patterns and gain understanding of developments as the pandemic continues to morph into its second year. For example, as the fierce winter wave continues in the northern hemisphere, previously high-rated places with minimal-disruption, no-lockdown strategies like Japan and Sweden have seen their ranking drop as outbreaks swell, reflecting the limits of a light-touch approach.

The Ranking has received global attention and affirmation. It’s been cited by politicians from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and covered across print media, TV news, talkshows and documentaries everywhere from mainland China to Finland, France to South Korea.

Techniques/technologies used:

Google’s collaborative working tools are utilized for organizing the article’s content. Data are entered and organized in Google Sheets, which also has controls for aspects of the heatmap table visualization, and the body copy and placement of other elements are composed in Google Docs. Node.JS scripts are used to pull from Google Drive and our internal charting tool. The page is built with EJS templating, using custom markup based on ArchieML. The heatmap table is rendered using the Svelte JavaScript framework. This setup allows reporters to maintain and edit the article for subsequent updates.

What was the hardest part of this project?

The Ranking brought together 10 (later expanded to 11) data-points into one definitive gauge, giving readers an interactive way of seeing the macro global pandemic state-of-play, while allowing them to drill down into specific economies or data indicators like vaccine access and fatalities per capita.

The 10 indicators were finalized over months to capture the full spectrum of lived experience in the Covid-19 pandemic, one that has upended previous notions of the best places to be during a public health crisis.

Going beyond basic indicators like the number of cases and fatalities, the Ranking took into account factors like people’s ability and willingness to move around, the stringency of the rules governing their daily lives, their level of access to vaccines, and how effective and developed their health-care systems are more broadly.

What can others learn from this project?

The lession that other journalist can learn from the project is that when you go beyond the basic and conventional indicators, the newsroom is able to cover the impact of the pandemic on a deeper level, and that is appreciate by the readers.

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