The COVID Tracking Project

This three-part series exposes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s bungled response to COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic and takes listeners inside the massive volunteer effort to collect data about tests, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S.

The United States has 4% of the world’s population, but 16% of COVID-19 deaths. This series investigates the failures that led to over 1 million Americans dying from COVID-19 and what that tells us about the nation’s ability to respond to the next pandemic. This three-part series was reported by Artis Curiskis and Kara Oehler and hosted by infectious disease expert Jessica Malaty Rivera.

Credit: Illustration by Amanda Northrup

The COVID Tracking Project Part 1

In February 2020, reporters Rob Meyer and Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic were trying to find solid data about the rising pandemic. They published a story that revealed a scary truth: The U.S. didn’t know where COVID-19 was spreading because few tests were available. The CDC also didn’t have public data to tell citizens or federal agencies how many people were infected or where the outbreaks were happening. 

Credit: Illustration by Amanda Northrup

The COVID Tracking Project Part 2

In March 2020, White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx had a daunting task for technologist Amy Gleason, a new member of her data team. Her job was to figure out where people were testing positive for COVID-19 across the country, how many were in hospitals and how many had died from the disease. Gleason was shocked to find that data from the CDC wasn’t reflecting the immediate impact of the coronavirus.

Credit: Illustration by Amanda Northrup

The COVID Tracking Project Part 3

The COVID Tracking Project closes with a look at racial disparities in deaths from the disease and what the CDC has learned. Jessica Malaty Rivera talks with the current CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, to try to understand what went wrong in the agency’s response to the pandemic – and ask whether it’s prepared for the next one.


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the covid tracking project

Special thanks to The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic. This series is presented by Tableau.

Host: Jessica Malaty Rivera

Executive producer and reporter: Kara Oehler 

Executive producer and reporter: Artis Curiskis

Lead editor: Michael I Schiller

Production assistants: Max Maldonado, Kori Suzuki and Aarushi Sahejpal | Fact checker: Nikki Frick | Production manager: Steven Rascón | Digital producer: Sarah Mirk | Episode art: Amanda Northrup | Original score and sound design: Jim Briggs and Fernando Arruda | Post-production team: Kathryn Styer Martinez and Michael Montgomery | Interim executive producers: Brett Myers and Taki Telonidis

Support for Reveal is provided by the Reva and David Logan Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Park Foundation.