ArcGIS Pro

How to map New York Times coronavirus time series data in ArcGIS Pro

The New York Times has been compiling cumulative counts of coronavirus cases in the United States at state and county levels since the very first outbreak in Washington state on January 21st, 2020. According to their github page, they decided to make this time series data public to help researchers, scientists and government officials better understand the pandemic. This github repository gets updated daily and has records for each US county with coronavirus cases for each day. You can view the table (in .csv format) at where each record/row represents one single county for a given day. This makes it easier to map how the outbreak spreads in the USA over time using ArcGIS Pro.

At high level, the process is as simple as 1-2-3.

  1. Download and copy data in a geodatabase
  2. Join the time series table to US County polygon layer
  3. Make the layer time aware and view daily changes using the time slider


1. Download the time series data

  1. Download the following python script from ArcGIS Online
  2. Unzip it from its zipped format, and open in your favorite text editor.
  3. Update values for 3 variables from line #9 – #15. These are basically (a) where the csv file will get downloaded, (b) the full path to your file geodatabase or a .sde connection file for your enterprise database and (c) the name of the output table – a default name is provided, change it if you want to.
  4. Save the file.
  5. Execute the script using tools like Python IDLE, Visual Studio Code, or directly from the command line.
    You must have ArcGIS Pro installed in order to execute this script.
  6. To execute it from the Windows command line:
  7. Open Windows Command Prompt on the machine where you have ArcGIS Pro.
  8. Go to python folder e.g. cd C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\Pro\bin\Python\envs\arcgispro-py3
    This is typically where ArcGIS Pro gets installed by default. Change the path if you installed it in a different location.
  9. Type python "<location_where_you_saved_the_python_script>\UpdateNYTimesCovid19TimeSeries" and hit enter.
  10. In few seconds, the time series csv file will get downloaded and copied as a table in the output geodatabase.
  11. Since there are some geographic exceptions, you need to download a modified version of US counties data.
  12. Navigate to
  13. Click on Open in ArcGIS Pro button on the page.
  14. The county layer should get added to a map in ArcGIS Pro.
  15. Right-click on the layer in the Content pane.
  16. Choose Data | Export Features from the context menu.
  17. It opens a geoprocessing tool.
  18. For the Output Location, select the same geodatabase where you copied the New York Times coronavirus time series table (having them in the same geodatabase increases drawing performance).
  19. Enter NYTCovid19_Counties in the Output Feature Class.

2. Join time series table with county layer

  1. Open ArcGIS Pro and insert a map.
  2. Add both US counties polygon layer and the time series table.
  3. Select NYTCovid19_Counties layer from the Content pane.
  4. Under Feature Layer, on the Data tab, in the Relationship group, in the Join menu, click Add Join.
  5. Fill in the geoprocessing tool using the values from the table below:
    Layer Name or Table View: NYTCovid19_Counties
    Input Join Field: FIPS
    Join Table: NYTCovid19_TimeSeriesCases    (assuming you didn’t change the default name provided in the python script)
    Output Join Field: FIPS
  6. Click Run.
  7. There is a 1:M relationship, meaning for each county polygon, there are 1 or more records in the time series table.
    If you click on a county like Los Angeles, you will see more than 1 records in the popup window.
  8. Symbolize counties responsibly.

3. Visualize changes using the time slider

  1. Open NYTCovid19_Counties layer Properties page by choosing Properties from the right-click context menu.
  2. Switch to the Time tab
  3. Select Each feature has a single time field from the Layer Time drop down.
  4. Choose date as the Time Field.
  5. Since the data will be update daily (see section at the end how you can keep your version updated), have Data is live feed checkbox checked.
  6. Click OK.
  7. It will bring up the Time Slider.
  8. Under Map, on the Time tab, in the View group, click on Enable Time.
  9. In the Current Time group, set Start to 1/20/2020 and Span to 1 Day.
  10. In the same group, click on the Start Excluded to show only 1 day worth of data – in this case, only for the 21st January, 2020. If you didn’t have start excluded, the map will show data from both 20th and 21st January.
  11. You can click on the Play from the Playback group to animate through time and see daily changes.



Here are few maps and charts, produced using the New York Times time series data, show how the pandemic has spread since February, 2020.

Time animation showing how the number cases per 100,000 sky rocketed in next 33 days

It is clearly visible that not only the pandemic spread across the county, as you see more counties lit up but also number of confirmed cases increased by many folds in those areas. Some of these changes can also be easily represented in charts.

Visualizing time series charts

Charts give option to see result from different perspectives. Charts in ArcGIS Pro can be used to produce some charts like the ones below from the time series table.

How to keep the data updated:

The New York Times has been working tirelessly to update this time series dataset daily. Since it happens only once a day, you can manually execute the python script or use Windows Task Scheduler to update at regular interval even when you are not logged on.

Can I share?

Yes, you can share your map as a map image layer (aka publish it as map service) to your on-premises ArcGIS Enterprise. Please read my next blog post containing detail instructions.

Few things to remember:

About the author

Tanu is a product engineer on Esri Mapping Team focusing on map service, print service, and ArcGIS Pro. He also works on spatio-temporal analysis, spatial aggregation and real-time data. Tanu’s background includes a masters in Urban Planning from University of Akron, Ohio, USA and a bachelor degree from Khulna University, Bangladesh, and worked as GIS Coordinator in City of West Springfield, and GIS Specialist in a hydrology modeling center in Bangladesh before joining Esri.

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