‘ArkansasCovid’ crunches COVID-19 data, represents crowdsourced fact-checking possibilities


FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — COVID-19 positive cases are increasing by the day, and one Northwest Arkansas woman is crunching the numbers through data sets that represent the trajectory of the outbreak.

“I’ve found that it really has evolved into a much bigger project than I initially thought,” said Misty Orpin, the founder and operator of ArkansasCovid. “We’re certainly seeing that certain populations in Arkansas are being impacted a lot differently than others.”

ArkansasCovid’s website features graphs and charts developed through Tableau, and interactive data is more-easily understood than figures posted through the state’s Department of Health or other sources, Orpin said.

ArkansasCovid’s Tableau charts are interactive. Viewers can access information broken down by county.

“Initially, I just wanted to put the raw data out there for folks—just a Google spreadsheet that people could download and look at, maybe use to create their own charts,” Orpin said. “Then it evolved into the Tableau charts, and those kind of expanded like a monster.”

The website expanded into a Twitter page with more than 6,000 followers. Orpin delivers charts and graphs nearly instantaneously after Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) adjourns his daily COVID-19 news conferences.

The University of Arkansas’ Journalism School and its Arkansas Soul program provided Orpin with a summer intern who helps her with the data, but crowdsourced Twitter fact checkers have been her main source of oversight.

“The community on Twitter surrounding ArkansasCovid has been really supportive, and people have been willing to help one another with information and not just beat each other down,” Orpin said. “Having that non-toxic environment has been really important to me as I continue this.”

The Mexican Consulate was impressed with ArkansasCovid’s data collection and approached Orpin with the idea of translating the work into Spanish, something she said she was honored to do.

When the pandemic ends, Orpin said she’ll pass it onto a community partner.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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