Missouri COVID-19 Update 

This is a page about the author

Who are you, anyway?

Great question, and gosh, I am so glad you asked. To quote the great Horace Ott, "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, please don't let me be misunderstood".

My name is Matthew Holloway, and I live in Joplin, MO with my wife, Abbey, our two children, and our two dogs, Moose and Hoz (named in the glory days of Royals baseball, circa 2015). I am a manager for a not-for-profit organization that helps individuals with a diagnosis of some kind find sustainable employment. I have a wealth of experience in human resources from both hospital and disaster recovery settings, but I am not affiliated with The State of Missouri, nor any private healthcare organization or interest group. For more on how this situation fell on my lap, I would encourage you to take a look at this article from The Riverfront Times.

I had been following the initial outbreak of the virus in Wuhan, the capitol of the Hubei Province in China since mid-January, and I became fascinated by the physiological aspect of virus transmission. I was paying close attention each morning to news articles so I could track how far it was spreading, and how quickly it was spreading.

 

By March 07, we had our first case in Missouri. To this point, I had been impressed by the data visualization products compiled by various outlets and individuals across the globe. As the cases grew, I realized there were all these weird ass counties I had never heard of in my entire life, although I have exclusively been a Missouri resident for my entire life. Unfortunately at the time, no one was visualizing where these counties actually were --- the state just had a "county name ... cases" table.

Having always wanted to learn data visualization myself, I did what every total idiot would do --- I opened up Microsoft paint, clicked on the paint bucket, and started filling in counties. Then I started playing with the graphics, started exploring different charts, seeking out different data, etc. I was genuinely just looking at what I could make.

After a few days of doing this, I posted a couple of images on Twitter, and showed them to my wife. "You should post that on Facebook", she said. Pretty sure I said something along the lines of "Facebook can go eat shit and die", but, I ended up caving.

Now, over 5 months later, the process and visuals continue to evolve, but I'm still at it.

I never would have dreamed that this project would reach the scale that it has. I did not expect to find myself in a position where there's such a desire for concise, accurate, and timely data, that public health officials from across the state initiate contact with me each and every day to talk about the numbers, and the trends, and the challenges they're facing, and what we can collectively do to move forward. I certainly would not have envisioned uncovering lifelong friends and contacts by beginning the project. Nor could I have anticipated the radio appearances, news articles, city council meetings, yearbooks using my visuals, virtual classroom lessons, and so on.

I have no agenda other than learning more about data visualization, communicable disease, public health, communication as it relates to a pandemic, and.. well, honestly, just learning more about myself.