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Fighting against COVID-19 anxiety with coding

Apr 29 2020

In the middle of March, the number of people infected with COVID-19 began to rise in Finland. The news was all about Coronavirus, and it affected almost every aspect of my life. It was also causing lots of anxiety. As the situation was (and still is) beyond my control, I needed to do something I could control, so I started coding. In this blog post, I will introduce the project that kept me busy the first days of full Corona-outbreak in Finland.

What did I do?

I created a dashboard for following COVID-19-infections in Finland. You can find the source code in Github:

COVID-19-project in Github

Also, the project is live here

Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat provides an open data source about infections in Finland. I decided to use that as a starting point for my project. Building on top of that data, I coded with React, TypeScript, and VictoryChart. Also, being a GraphQL-enthusiast, I decided to use Apollo Client for handling networking. I wanted to have the website both in English and in Finnish, so I used React-intl for handling translations.

Thoughts on the process

The first weekend I was coding the app, I just wanted to get it done and was hands full of learning VictoryChart. I didn't think about any accessibility-related things, even though I should have. They should be part of the process from the very beginning. So after the first version was published, I realized something: VictoryChart doesn't provide much accessibility. That was bad.

So, I had to make a decision. I will rewrite the charts with D3.js (another charting library to learn!) as soon as I have a time slot for learning and programming. I am kind of disappointed in myself for not taking accessibility into account from the beginning. Yet, I have to admit, I was pretty paralyzed, as the whole quarantine and anxiety hit me hard.

But did it help?

Yes. The whole weekend I was so concentrated on coding that I did not check the news. That helped me to let go of the addiction I had developed for following the news. It also helped to get the feeling of doing something. Well, at least something small.