Visual explanation for how herd immunity works

Herd immunity works when you have enough people who are immune to a disease, maybe because they already got it or there’s a vaccine, so that the disease can’t spread anymore to those who don’t have a resistance. For The Washington Post, Harry Stevens is back with simulitis to demonstrate how this works in greater detail.

It starts at the individual level, generalizes to a larger group, and then zooms out to the more concrete state level. It ends with an interactive that lets you test the thresholds yourself.

Each step builds on the previous, which provides clarity to an otherwise abstract idea.

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Electricity sources by state

With Joe Biden calling for 100% clean electricity, John Muyskens and Juliet Eilperin for The Washington Post looked at where states are at now in terms of electricity generation.

The variable width bar chart above uses a column for each state. Clean electricity stacks on the top and fossil fuels stack on the bottom, each representing a percentage of total generation. Column width represents total electricity for each state.

It reminds me of the spending graphic by Interactive Things in 2010. I think variable width is about to be a thing again.

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When the world shut down, seen through global flights

Lauren Tierney and William Neff for The Washington Post used a rotating globe to show how connections between countries quickly shut down as the coronavirus spread.

I’m looking forward to when we get to watch the map in reverse.

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Map shows increasing confirmed cases in rural areas

This map by Tim Meko for The Washington Post uses time series lines to show change in confirmed cases by county. Using a combination of line thickness, height, and color, the map highlights the counties with the greatest change since early May.


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How experts use disease modeling to help inform policymakers

Harry Stevens and John Muyskens for The Washington Post put you in the spot of an epidemiologist receiving inquiries from policymakers about what might happen:

Imagine you are an epidemiologist, and one day the governor sends you an email about an emerging new disease that has just arrived in your state. To avoid the complexities of a real disease like covid-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, we have created a fake disease called Simulitis. In the article below, we’ll give you the chance to model some scenarios — and see what epidemiologists are up against as they race to understand a new contagion.

Fuzzy numbers, meet real-world decisions.

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Pretend mall map to show at-risk brands

Many brands that were at-risk before the pandemic or ran with low profit margins might not make it through this thing. The Washington Post used a faux mall map to show the levels of risk:

Companies in this faux mall are rated as speculative investments at Moody’s and S&P as of April 13. These stores are already in financial trouble, and may not be able to access government stimulus money. The stores with the worst ratings are closer to the top of the mall. Brands that are part of the same company, like the Gap and Old Navy, are included in the same storefront.

The above is one level out of four, and each rectangle is sized by a company’s revenue.

I’m getting childhood flashbacks passing time inside the circles of clothes.

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Excess deaths

We cannot know the true number of coronavirus-related deaths. Maybe it’s because of a lack of tests. Maybe cause of death is ambiguous because of pre-existing conditions. So, for a different point of view, you might compare the usual number of deaths against total deaths. The Washington Post and researchers from the Yale School of Public Health looked at the differences.

See also a similar comparison for other countries by The New York Times.

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Change in Google searches since the virus

The coronavirus changed what information we search for. Has anyone been more interested in making masks or hand sanitizer in the history of the world? For The Washington Post, Alyssa Fowers compares search rankings for how, where, what, and how the week of April 5 to 11, for 2019 against 2020.

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How to sew a mask, with a template

The Washington Post provides clear instructions on how to sew your own mask. Download and print the template, attach elastic straps, and sew.

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DIY masks, balancing filtration and breathability

The CDC now recommends that you wear a cloth face mask if you leave the house. For The Washington Post, Bonnie Berkowitz and Aaron Steckelberg answer some questions you might have about making your own, including the chart above. You need material that provides both filtration and breathability.

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