All Coronavirus Tracking Reports Have Conflicting Data. Which Should You Trust?

The New York Times, CDC, Google and many other companies are trying to track real-time coronavirus statistics, from ongoing cases to deaths, but the data on how many coronavirus cases exist is conflicting among published reports.

The reason is because all companies, while mostly reliable, are using different sources for their reporting and tracking.

Which company or publisher should you trust? 

Here’s a look at the top five publisher for coronavirus tracking. All worldwide case and US case numbers reported below were published on April 19, 3 pm.

Comparing data from 5 different coronavirus tracking companies and publishers.

1. NCoV2019.live

Worldwide cases: 2,178,149

US cases: 675,640

Photo: NCoV2019.live

NCoV2019.live, a website that tracks daily coronavirus cases worldwide, was launched by a 17-year-old high school student who reportedly turned down $8 million in advertising to protect the integrity of the site. According to Avi Schiffman, the creator, the website has had recent updates and bug fixes, and he has been working on “adding better sources,” so the site has been off and on. The website received over 500 million visitors. 

NCoV2019 “runs a script to automatically scrape a number of well-sourced sites for the latest data,” according to GeekWire.

2. Worldometer

Worldwide cases: 2,392,313

US cases: 755,162

Photo: Worldometer

For its live data, Worldometer manually analyzes, validates and aggregates data from thousands of sources in real time, according to the website, with data “trusted and used by the UK Government, Johns Hopkins CSSE, the Government of Thailand, the Government of Vietnam, the Government of Pakistan, Financial Times, The New York Times, Business Insider, BBC, and many others.”

Worldometer, which has been a resource for over 15 years, works around the clock, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with multiple updates a minute via the team of analysts and researchers who validate the data from over 5,000 sources, according to the website. 

“Our sources include Official Websites of Ministries of Health or other Government Institutions and Government authorities’ social media accounts,” according to Worldometer. “Because national aggregates often lag behind the regional and local health departments’ data, part of our work consists in monitoring thousands of daily reports released by local authorities. Our multilingual team also monitors press briefings’ live streams throughout the day. Occasionally, we can use a selection of leading and trusted news wires with a proven history of accuracy in communicating the data reported by Governments in live press conferences before it is published on the Official Websites.”

Worldometer also lists a timeline of coronavirus events, patients under investigation and COVID demographics (like age of coronavirus deaths, sex ratio, etc). 

3. CDC

Worldwide cases: 2,241,359

US cases: 690,714

Photo: CDC

CDC, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, updates its numbers daily, according to the website, however, numbers reported on Saturday and Sundays are preliminary and not yet confirmed by state and territorial health departments. The numbers are updated on Mondays.

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“CDC does not know the exact number of COVID-19 illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths for a variety of reasons,” according to the website. “COVID-19 can cause mild illness, symptoms might not appear immediately, there are delays in reporting and testing, not everyone who is infected gets tested or seeks medical care, and there may be differences in how states and territories confirm numbers in their jurisdictions.”

CDC lists a demographic characteristic of COVID-19 cases in the US, including age group and race. For it’s worldwide cases report, CDC uses World Health Organization statistics.

4. Google

Worldwide cases: 2,367,758

US cases: 747,806

Photo: Google

If you Google “coronavirus cases,” Google search will show a statistic chart.

Google’s source for its date is Wikipedia.

According to Google, data changes rapidly, and the data only includes people tested. 

5. The New York Times

Global cases: 2,336,000

US cases: 746,332

Photo: The New York Times

The New York Times offers a coronavirus map that tracks the global outbreak. It is updated daily, though not frequently (At 2:50 PM, the last update was at 8:17 AM). 

As of April 19, there are 2.299 million cases in the world and 728,094 cases in the United States, according to The New York Times.

This includes 66,900 cases who have recovered, and 39,425 deaths.

Data includes where cases are rising fast, cases and deaths by state and county and special focus on New York State cases. 

The New York Times uses its journalists to track cases.

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“The tracking effort grew from a handful of Times correspondents to a large team of journalists that includes experts in data and graphics, staff news assistants and freelance reporters, as well as journalism students from Northwestern University, the University of Missouri and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln,” according to The New York Times. “The reporting continues nearly all day and night, seven days a week, across U.S. time zones, to record as many details as possible about every case in real time. The Times is committed to collecting as much data as possible in connection with the outbreak and is collaborating with the University of California, Berkeley, on an effort in that state.”

All five publishers have numbers that vary, yet all numbers are consistently near an average. All data supports the curve is flattening, though it hasn’t yet fully plateaued.

Coronavirus has caused a global pandemic. Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China, on December 31, 2019, first arrived in the US on January 19, 2020, in Washington.

Airlines are still flying planes with no passengers during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s why.

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