A locked-down Wuhan, moved to New York State

Hi, this is Lisa! I’m responsible for the blog and general communication at Datawrapper. Today I’m using a brand-new feature of ours to map the size of the Hubei area in China that’s locked down due to the coronavirus.

When I was 21 years old, I did an exchange semester in Toronto (a great city!). It was my first time in North America. Everything was new and exciting. And after a few weeks in Toronto, I knew I had to see New York City on the other side of the border, THE city of cities.

So that’s what I did. As a student with little money and lots of time, I went by bus. 10 hours! That’s how long the bus took to get me across all of New York State. Which always looked so tiny on the map of the US. Turns out, it is a big country.

Almost as big as the United States is China, which has gotten a lot of news coverage lately. Much of it was about the city of Wuhan (that I didn’t know existed). It is the seventh-biggest city in China and the center of the COVID-19 virus outbreak. Together with neighboring regions, it got locked down almost a month ago

For this Weekly Chart, I mapped the dimensions of the locked-down province in China, comparing it to the state I crossed by bus many years ago:

57m people – that’s a lot. That’s like 70% of the German population. And these 57m people are all more or less severely affected by the lockdown.

“Now the whole of Wuhan is closed, all public transport and private cars have been stopped, so [my parents] can’t even drive their own cars on the road,” a Chinese student told the Guardian last week. “So they just stay at home, eating, sleeping and watching movies. That’s all they can do.”

Wuhan is the “first known instance in modern history of locking down a major city of as many as 11 million people”, a Wikipedia author writes. I didn’t know that the area affected by the lockdown was so big until I created the map above.

Here’s what went into creating the above map:

  • To get the administrative regions as a GeoJSON, I tried a new site – DIVA-GIS. I downloaded the data from there, uploaded it to mapshaper.org and used the filter and dissolve commands on the geodata.
  • To move the Hubei province to the US I used the Reprojector tool my coworker Hans Hack created.
  • To create the map I used our locator maps and the new vignettes feature we released today.
  • And I decided on the blue color after reading Kenneth Field’s Twitter thread about coronavirus maps.

To play around with our new vignettes feature yourself, hover over the map and then click on the “Edit this chart” button that appears in the top right. This will bring you directly into our locator map tool. And if you liked this Weekly Chart, check out Hans’ Weekly Chart from two weeks ago where he attempts something similar. See you next week!

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