An Osher Map Library Exhibition Inspired by Cancelled Travel in the COVID Era

C. F. Weiland, Cholera-karte oder Übersicht der progressiven verbreitung der Cholera seit ihrer Erscheinung im Jahr 1817 über Asien, Europa und Africa, 1832. Map, 62 × 73 cm. Osher Map Library Sheet Map Collection.

The latest exhibition at the Osher Map Library and Smith Center for Cartographic Education is deliberately on the nose: Where Will We Go from Here? Travel in the Age of COVID-19 is the Osher’s first crowdsourced exhibition, based in part on more than 140 responses to an online survey about cancelled travel plans and the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The exhibition is divided into five sections, beginning with an introduction to the mapping of pandemics and diseases, and continuing into four themes that emerged from the types of cancelled or postponed trips our respondents wrote about most frequently: Birthdays, Anniversaries, and Family Milestones; Weddings; Work-Related Travel; and Lost Study-Abroad Experiences. The curators selected stories from the survey and matched personal narratives and reflections about trips not taken to historic maps from our collections. We hope that as you walk through the gallery you will take time to read these personal narratives, and that they provide you with an opportunity to engage in quiet reflection about the challenges you and your loved ones have faced this year, and that you will join us in pondering the question: “Where will we go from here?”

At the end of our questionnaire, we asked participants: “Beyond your canceled travel plans, is there anything else you would like to tell us about how the pandemic has impacted your living and working situations?” We were particularly moved by the honest and thoughtful responses to this question; all responses can be read in a scrolling feed on the monitor at the end of the exhibit.

The physical exhibition opened on 13 May and is open to visitors until 15 October 2021. Free admission with timed tickets; no more than six visitors are allowed in the gallery at any one time. The online exhibition starts here; the sections mixing personal narratives and historical maps can be quite poignant.

The Geospatial Revolution Project: Mapping the Pandemic

A decade after the Geospatial Revolution Project, which explored the use and impact of digital mapping technologies, released its fourth and (apparently) final episode, there’s a new episode focusing on how digital mapping tools were conscripted into the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The Project has posted a version of the episode including a live panel discussion afterward on Facebook Live.

Previously: The Geospatial Revolution Project; The Geospatial Revolution Project, Episode Two; The Geospatial Revolution Project, Episode Three; The Geospatial Revolution Project, Episode Four; Maps and the Geospatial Revolution.

CDC Vaccination Maps

Screenshot of CDC Covid Data Tracker map showing county-level vaccination equity in the United States
CDC (screenshot)

Maps tracking the progress of the U.S.’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign at the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker (now) include an interactive county-level map showing first and second doses among 12+, 18+ and 65+ populations and a map of vaccine equity (above): a bivariate choropleth map showing the relationship between vaccination coverage and social vulnerability (housing, vehicle access, general poverty).

U.S. COVID Vaccination Rates and Active Cases

Screenshot of an interactive bivariate choropleth map showing COVID vaccination rates and active cases in the United States.
McKinsey & Company (screenshot)

This interactive map compares U.S. COVID vaccination rates with active cases at the county level. Created by McKinsey and Company’s COVID Response Center, it’s a bivariate choropleth map that shows two variables at once. (If this confuses you, the legend helps.) It’s a good way to see where low vaccination rates correlate with lots of COVID cases (red on this map), or high vaccination rates with few cases (teal); the map lets you explore other variables as well. [Maps Mania]

Mapping Vaccine Hesitancy in the United States

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data and maps showing the estimated rate of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. on a county-by-county basis. The data is based on a question in the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey that asked respondents whether they’d get a vaccine for COVID-19 once it was available to them. Methodology and datasets here. [Boston.com]

COVID-19 in Los Angeles

New York Times (screenshot)

The New York Times maps the distribution of COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles. “County officials recently estimated that one in three of Los Angeles County’s roughly 10 million people have been infected with Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. But even amid an uncontrolled outbreak, some Angelenos have faced higher risk than others. County data shows that Pacoima, a predominantly Latino neighborhood that has one of the highest case rates in the nation, has roughly five times the rate of Covid-19 cases as much richer and whiter Santa Monica.”

COVID-19 in the United States: A Map Roundup

County-level map of the United States showing willingness to get the COVID-19 vaccine (MIT Technology Review)

The New York Times maps the risk of getting COVID-19 in the United States on a county-by-county basis (previously: Mapping COVID-19 Exposure Risk at Events). [Maps Mania]

Now that vaccines are available, they can be mapped as well. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s COVID Data Tracker includes this map of total doses administered in the U.S.; this NBC News county-level map showing the percentage of Americans living within 50 miles of a pharmacy expected to carry a vaccine dates from December and is probably out of date by now. [Maps Mania]

According to a survey, more than a quarter of the U.S. population would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if it was available to them. This number is not evenly distributed: this map from MIT Technology Review, presented as a map showing whether your neighbours want to get vaccinated, reveals the regional pockets of vaccine hesitancy (see above). (What the actual hell, Louisiana?)

Pandemic Atlas

Pandemic Atlas banner illustration

Alejandro Polanco’s latest Kickstarter project is the Pandemic Atlas. The idea, he says, “is to gather the most relevant information about the pandemics and major epidemics that have hit humanity throughout history to create an atlas in the visual style of my Minimal Geography project.” In 130 pages, the Pandemic Atlas explores major epidemics throughout history, and includes general chapters on heath subjects. The project’s inception actually predates the COVID-19 pandemic; it was initally inspired by the 100th anniversary of the 1918 pandemic, but at the time there was not much interest in the topic. Fast forward today, when an atlas about historical pandemics is just a little too topical.

The Pandemic Atlas Kickstarter runs through 24 February (it’s already met its goal). €20 gets you a digital copy of the atlas, €60 adds the hardcover.

Previously: The Minimal Geography Atlas.

The Mythology of John Snow’s Cholera Map

John Snow's cholera map (detail)

Kenneth Field explores (and dismantles) the mythology around John Snow, the discovery that cholera was spread by water, the role of the famous cholera map and whether it revolutionized disease mapping. Depending on what you know about the subject—if, for example, you got what you know from an episode of Map Men—what you know is more myth than history: the map came after the Broad Street outbreak, it was not by any means the first example of disease mapping, and John Snow wasn’t the map’s cartographer. Field:

The mythology surrounding his work, the 1854 epidemic, and specifically the role of the map are a fine story, but much of it is retold according to the version many seem happy to believe rather than what really happened. But the real story is just as interesting. There are plenty of excellent longer form discussions of the story in which you may be interested. In particular, Kari McLeod’s excellent article that goes into detail about the various myths, and an article by Tom Koch and Kenneth Denike also goes into detail about the true order of events.

Mapping COVID-19 Hospitalizations

The thing that seems to worry authorities most about COVID-19 is its potential to overwhelm hospitals, at which point the mortality rate really begins to shoot up. In March, the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management released the COVID-19 Hospitalization Tracking Project, which maps, on a county-by-county, basis, the percentage of hospital and ICU beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. [Maps Mania]

Simple COVID Maps Show the Growth in the Positivity Rate

Innouveau’s Corona Status Maps are simple yet effective: they show the rate of positive tests at the national, regional, county or city level, depending on the map. They’re animated and have responsive sliders to quickly show how the positivity rate has changed over time; clicking on a region gives a bit more detail as well. With maps of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, the Hague, Rotterdam, the Netherlands plus Germany, Central Europe and Europe, there’s a distinct emphasis in the maps’ focus. [Maps Mania]

COVID Zones

City of New York (left); Province of Quebec (right)

Rather than applying restrictions across their entire jurisdictions, several authorities are designating zones to target measures to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus where the spread is at its greatest. Maps can quickly indicate not only where COVID is at its worst, but also where restrictions have been put into place. Two examples: New York City (above left) and the province of Quebec (above right). New York’s map is interactive and has an address search, whereas Quebec’s map is spectacularly ungranular: diagonal lines show that a region has more strict restrictions in some areas but not others, but does not map those areas (which are indicated in text).

Mapping the Coronavirus at U.S. Colleges

Colleges with coronavirus since the pandemic began (NY Times)
The New York Times

The New York Times maps COVID-19 cases at U.S. colleges and universities. The map and searchable database are based on their survey of more than 1,600 post-secondary institutions; the survey “has revealed at least 88,000 cases and at least 60 deaths since the pandemic began. Most of those deaths were reported in the spring and involved college employees, not students. More than 150 colleges have reported at least 100 cases over the course of the pandemic, including dozens that have seen spikes in recent weeks as dorms have reopened and classes have started.”