Who made this tool and why?

My name is Mike Hankey and I made this tool. For the last 20+ years, I have written data tracking and analytics software. My most noteable work has been the meteor and fireball tracking programs used by the American Meteor Society and International Meteor Organization. For the past ten years, I have been actively involved with astronomy and STEM focused public outreach.

When the corona virus started, like so many, I found myself obsessed with the numbers and I wanted to understand what was going on, how we were doing and when it might end. I had a hard time analyzing data presented on most of the popular sites and felt sad, scared and overwhelmed when I checked the daily numbers -- they just kept going up and up. It was also hard to get a sense of the true reality from news media, as these days all are slanted one way or another. Seeking opinions from online friends was not much help either as widely different opinions formed and disinformation raged.

For these reasons, I decided to make my own corona virus stats tool, with a few specific requirements:

With the help of my long time co-developer friend Vincent Perlerin, we set out to make a tool that imported the data, crunched the numbers and saved them to files that would easily enable our reporting needs. From there we created maps, graphs and animations and worked on various ways of presenting the data. After a few weeks, I had an idea about forecasting and the corona calculator was born.

Data

The world wide data tracking efforts surrounding corona virus numbers are extensive and reach to localities across the globe. In the United States, each county's health department (there are over 20,000), report their numbers to the state, which then reports the numbers to the CDC. John's Hopkins University has been leading the aggregation of this data from the US and all of the world's countries. Hopkins updates and publishes this data through a git hub project which fuels most of the reporting sites on the web right now. A few other corona tracking projects have popped up that further enhance the raw data and make it available. The Covid Tracking Project and the New York Times Covid 19 Data Project have developed systems to aggregate the Hopkins data and other sources into indexed data sets that are openly available. We use all of these data sources to create our corona virus data files and this is what is presented in the calculator, graphs and maps.

Data sources are updated daily. State data should be up to date to one day before the current date. County data is delayed an extra day, and should be current to two-days from the current date.

Once we have the data downloaded, we merge in state and county populations and then calculate several enhanced data fields including: cases and deaths per million, the case mortality rate (deaths / 'reported' cases), the growth rate from previous day, the growth decay (change to growth from previous day) and rolling averages for growth and decay.