Data animation shows time lag between COVID-19 cases and deaths

A new data visualization created by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers depicts the connection between COVID-19 case rates and deaths, and illustrates clearly the time lag between the two.

The new visualization, described in a July 10, 2020 working paper, shows the cumulative cases and death rates by state with rates per capita from January 22, 2020 through July 8, 2020. The animation shows that deaths often occur 2-8 weeks after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms.

The authors noted that, in the initial stages of the epidemic, case rates increased while death rates remained low in many states. But death rates subsequently increased in all states after several weeks, by varying amounts.

“We are anxious that lessons from places with high rates of transmission, disease and death, which in the US have been overwhelmingly concentrated among communities already without adequate healthcare and not provided with needed protection from the pandemic (among many other existing inequities) should be learned and communicated,” the authors wrote. “Whatever the policy and response failures in the past, we can work toward a better future.”

Co-authors of the paper included Christian Testa, data analyst and programmer; Nancy Krieger, professor of social epidemiology; Jarvis Chen, research scientist; and William Hanage, associate professor of epidemiology.

Read the working paper: Visualizing the lagged connection between COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States: An animation using per capita state-level data (January 22, 2020 – July 8, 2020)

Watch the data visualization: COVID-19 Cumulative Cases and Deaths per Capita