The exponential nature of viral spread means that pandemics are fast-moving and dynamic.
Combine this with the high interconnectedness of modern life—even when social distancing and lockdowns are applied—and pandemics can evolve quickly. In just a few weeks, previous hotspots can cool down, while new high risk areas can crop up seemingly out of nowhere.
In the United States, like many other places in the world, the virus is hitting regions differently, and this landscape is constantly changing over time.
COVID-19 Growth, by State
Today’s first visualization comes to us from Reddit user bgregory98, and it uses data from the New York Times to plot confirmed active COVID-19 cases by state.
States are organized by the date that weekly average cases peaked, from top to bottom. Data is normalized and is current until June 16th, and states are colored based on regional definitions (i.e. Northeast, Midwest, West, South) as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.
As you can see, when looking purely at active cases, the situation has evolved considerably from a geographical perspective.
Early on, COVID-19 cases were more concentrated in coastal population centers, especially in the Northeast. New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, the three hardest hit states per capita so far, saw cases peak in April.
However, a look at the bottom half of the visualization shows that generally, states in the South and West are starting to heat up with cases. Recent daily numbers confirm this, with California, Texas, Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina all gaining more than 1,000 new cases on June 17th.
Growth by State, Part Deux
The following visualization by Reddit user jawsem17 is designed using a similar concept, and is current as of June 17th.
This version uses the same data set from the New York Times. However, it also includes deaths as a metric, showing a comparison of peak deaths to peak cases for each state.
Although one would expect peak deaths to follow peak cases, this is not always the case.
Peak deaths in Nevada, for example, occurred on April 24th, but peak cases have been in the last week. This same peculiar pattern can be seen in a variety of states, from California to Oklahoma.
Mapped: The Evolution of COVID-19 in the U.S.
As the pandemic spreads and the situation has evolved, the mean center of weekly COVID-19 cases has been moving in a southwest direction.
The following map, which also comes from Reddit user bgregory98, averages the center coordinates of all counties weighted by how many new confirmed cases they have had over the past week:
Originating in Ohio, the mean center of cases was initially heavily skewed by cases in the New York metro area. Since then, the mean center of cases has shifted and has now journeyed slightly past the mean center of U.S. population, located in Missouri.
This is partially a regression to the mean, but it is also driven by growing case counts in aforementioned states in the southern and western parts of the country.
Mapped: Peak County Totals
Finally, the progression of COVID-19 within the U.S. can be mapped in another useful way, revealing a geographical perspective to the virus’ spread.
These maps from Winston Saunders show places where current disease levels are below their previous peaks (blue), and where current COVID-19 cases are at highs (red) as of June 18:
Cases Below Previous Peaks
Cases at Peak Levels
This again shows the shift from the Northeast and Midwest parts of the country towards the West and South regions.
As always, the path of the virus’ spread will continue to change and evolve, and the picture could again look quite different in just a few weeks time.
Charted: The Gen Z Unemployment Rate, Compared to Older Generations
COVID-19 has impacted everyone, but one generation is taking it harder than the others. This graphic reveals the Gen Z unemployment rate.
Putting the Gen Z Unemployment Rate in Perspective
There are more than 2 billion people in the Generation Z age range globally. These individuals, born between 1997 and 2009, represent about 30% of the total global population—and it’s predicted that by 2025, Gen Z will make up about 27% of the workforce.
Due to the global pandemic, unemployment has been on the rise across the board—but Gen Z has been hit the hardest. This chart, using data from the OECD, displays the difference between the unemployment rate for Gen Zers and the rate for older generations.
Note: The OECD defines the ‘unemployed’ as people of legal working age who don’t have work, are available to work, and have taken steps to find a job. The final figure is the number of unemployed people as a share of the total labor force.
The Generation Gap: Gen Z Unemployment
Compared to their older working-age counterparts, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials (Gen Y)—the most recent 2020 data shows that Gen Z has an unemployment rate of nearly 2x more in almost every OECD country.
|Country||Unemployment Rate (Gen Z)||Unemployment Rate (Millennial, Gen X, Boomer)|
|🇨🇿 Czech Republic||8.0%||2.3%|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||10.5%||3.6%|
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||12.4%||3.3%|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||13.5%||3.2%|
|🇺🇸 United States||15.1%||7.1%|
Note: For the purposes of this article, we are only considering the Gen Zers of legal working age—those born 1997-2006. The rest—Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials—are those born between 1946–1996.
The timing for the youngest working generation could not be worse. Gen Z is just beginning to graduate college and high school, and are beginning to search for work and careers.
Gen Z is also an age group that is overrepresented in service industries like restaurants and travel–industries that were equally hard hit by the pandemic. In the U.S., for example, around 25% of young people work in the hospitality and leisure sectors. Between February and May 2020 alone, employment in these sectors decreased by 41%.
Countries like Spain are facing some of the biggest headwinds among OECD countries. The country already has a high unemployment rate for those aged 25-74, at 14%. But the unemployment rate for Gen Z is more than double that, at over 38%.
Implications For the Future
While it may be true throughout history that this age group is often less employed than older cohorts, the share of labor held by those aged 15-24 dropped significantly in 2020.
Note: This chart represents the data from G7 countries.
In terms of their future employment prospects, some economists are anticipating what they call ‘scarring’. Due to longer periods of unemployment, Gen Z will miss out on formative years gaining experience and training. This may impact them later in life, as their ability to climb the career ladder will be affected.
Starting out slower can also hit earnings. One study found that long periods of youth unemployment can reduce lifetime income by 2%. Finally, it is also postulated that with the current economic situation, Gen Zers may accept lower paying jobs setting them on a track of comparatively lower earnings over their lifetime.
Overall, there are many future implications associated with the current unemployment rate for Gen Zers. Often getting your foot in the door after college or high school is one of the hardest steps in starting a career. Once you’re in, you gain knowledge, skills, and the oh-so-coveted experience needed to get ahead.
The Kids are Alright?
One positive for Gen Z is that they have been found to be more risk averse and financially conscious than other generations, and were so even prior to COVID-19. Many of them were children during the 2008 Recession and became very cautious as a result.
They are also the first digital generation— the first to grow up without any memory of a time before the internet. Additionally, they have been called the first global generation. This could mean that they pioneer location-independent careers, create innovative revenue streams, and find new ways to define work.
Explained: The 3 Major COVID-19 Variants
New variants of COVID-19 are spreading fast around the world. Here’s a look at the 3 major ones and how they differ from one another.
Explained: The 3 Major COVID-19 Variants
As billions of people gear up for widespread vaccination against COVID-19, another issue has reared its head. Three major COVID-19 variants have emerged across the globe—and preliminary research suggests these variants may be cause for concern.
But what makes them different from the original strain?
The following visualizations answer some key questions, including when these variants were first discovered, how far they’ve spread worldwide, and most importantly, their potential impact on the population.
Some Context: What is a Variant?
Before diving in, it’s important to understand why viruses mutate in the first place.
To infect someone, a virus takes over a host cell and uses it to replicate itself. But nature isn’t perfect, and sometimes, mistakes are made during the replication process—those mistakes are called mutations.
A virus with one or more mutations is referred to as a variant. Most of the time, variants do not affect a virus’s physical structure, and in those instances, they eventually disappear. However, there are certain cases when a mutation impacts part of a virus’s genetic makeup that does change its behavior.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) a change in behavior can alter:
- Rate of transmission
- Ability to potentially infect someone with natural or vaccine-induced immunity
Preliminary research has detected some of these changes in the three major COVID-19 variants—B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1.
The 3 Major COVID-19 Variants
The three major variants emerged at different times, and in different parts of the world. Here’s an overview of each variant, when they were discovered, and how far they’ve spread so far.
The B.1.1.7 variant was detected in the UK in the fall of 2020. By December 2020, it had spread across the globe, with cases emerging across Europe, North America, and Asia.
Currently, the variant has been reported in roughly 94 countries.
Early research suggests it’s 50% more transmissible than other variants, and potentially 35% more deadly than the standard virus. Luckily, studies suggest that some of the existing vaccines work well against it.
In October 2020, the second major variant was discovered—B.1.351. It was first identified in South Africa, but by end of the year, it had spread to the UK, Switzerland, Australia, and Japan.
There are approximately 48 countries with reported cases, and research suggests several of the existing COVID-19 vaccines may not be as effective against this variant.
The P.1 variant was the last to arrive on the scene.
It was first discovered in January 2021, when Japan reported four cases of the variant, which was found in travelers who had arrived from Brazil.
Approximately 25 countries have reported cases of the P.1 variant, and early research suggests this variant is not only more contagious, but could also have the ability to infect people with natural immunity who had already recovered from the original strain.
Still Early Days
While there have been preliminary studies showing a dip in vaccine effectiveness, some experts emphasize that it’s too early to tell for certain. More data is needed to gain a deeper and more accurate understanding.
In the meantime, experts are emphasizing the importance of following our current public health strategies, which include physical distancing, vaccination, washing your hands, and using masks.
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