The reality of COVID-19 has finally started to hit the world hard. Just yesterday, the World Health Organisation decided to describe the outbreak of a novel coronavirus that’s reached over 100 countries as a pandemic. Following that decision, several U.S. states cancelled large public gatherings and the NBA suspended its season, after a player tested positive for the virus. U.S. President Trump finally admitted the seriousness of the disease in a prime-time address.
As the situation inevitably worsens, access to reliable information will be crucial, with hoaxes, lies, and inaccurate information already spreading online. So here are some sources worth consulting for the latest on this unfolding situation.
Government and other official websites
Donald Trump has, to put lightly, not been a font of accurate information about the new coronavirus or its threat to the U.S. Yesterday, almost immediately following a primetime address to the nation on COVID-19, his own administration was forced to scramble and correct statements he made.
That said, much of the government’s public health infrastructure and staffing has been around long before Trump arrived. While the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has certainly not been perfect in its early handling of COVID-19, I would still recommend their pages on COVID-19 for need-to-know basic info.
State health departments in your area will perhaps play a more important role on the ground in trying to track and slow down the outbreaks, so it’s worth bookmarking your local health department’s website for the latest relevant news.
And there’s also the World Health Organisation, which recently created a page of common misconceptions and myths about COVID-19 (Will a hot bath kill the virus if you have it already? No!)
In mid-February, researchers from Johns Hopkins University created an online interactive dashboard that shows COVID-19’s path around the world in real time.
Reliant on official data from the CDC, WHO and others, as well as local media reports, the tracker has country-by-country information on overall cases, deaths, and people said to have recovered, all overlaid onto a map of the world. As an important reminder, this only tallies up confirmed or presumed cases—the true toll of the outbreak is likely higher, and especially so in countries like the U.S., where testing has been limited.
Gizmodo has been reporting on COVID-19 for months, and there are many news organisations doing a fantastic job covering the pandemic. The Atlantic, New York Times, and NPR have all had excellent coverage, particularly on the bungled response by the governments. STAT News also deserves a shout-out for its specialised reporting on the science and quickly developing research on COVID-19 and the virus that causes it, SARS-CoV-2.
Public health experts and scientists on Twitter have consistently offered sharp and relevant insights on COVID-19 from the very start, often before official sources have weighed in. Citizen science projects on Twitter like Flutrackers also continue to provide some of the most up-to-date data on the outbreak.
No single source or expert should be taken at their word alone, but these are a few accounts that I’ve personally found very helpful. Another caveat is that many of these people aren’t directly involved in studying COVID-19 or the virus as part of their day job. As one coronavirus researcher told me recently over the phone, many of the most qualified coronavirus experts are simply too busy right now to keep up on Twitter.
Ian MacKay, Australian virologist and blogger
Helen Branswell, STAT senior writer on infectious disease
Florian Krammer, microbiologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York
Kelly Hills, bioethicist
Nicholas Evans, bioethicist
Adam Kucharski, mathematician/epidemiologist
Isabella Eckerle, a professor at the Geneva Centre for Emerging Viral Diseases in Switzerland