TIME

Behind the Changing Forecast for Ebola Infections

See how improved care has changed predicted outcomes

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that without intervention, there could be up to 1.4 million Ebola Cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia by January 20, 2015.

Scroll down to see predicted cases vs. reported cases, and the new trajectory of Ebola cases.

Predicted Cases vs. Reported Cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone

While the grim forecast was always presented as the worst case scenario, looking at predictions by country can provide a metric of the impact of intervention. In both Liberia and Sierra Leone, latest reports from the World Health Organization reveal different outcomes than expected.

Predicted Cases vs. Reported Cases in Liberia

As of Dec. 8, 2014, Liberia’s cases fell over 900,000 cases short of the CDC’s worst case scenario. At the time of the CDC report, Liberia had seen hundreds of new cases each week – more than double that of Sierra Leone. CDC’s model predicts future case numbers, assuming no intervention, according to Martin Meltzer, co-author of the CDC report.

Predicted Cases vs. Reported Cases in Sierra Leone

Dramatically fewer cases were predicted for Sierra Leone, where Ebola was located in May. But updated reports are far worse, with infections exceeding CDC’s prediction by nearly 5,000 as of Dec. 8, 2014. The latest report from the World Health Organization states that infection rates are increasing in northern Sierra Leone, where treatment and isolation centers are stretched to capacity.

“Part of forecasting is that things change unforeseen, such as in Liberia with increased interventions and changed behavior,” Meltzer said.

The prediction model can be used to understand the potential impact of worsening conditions in Sierra Leone. TIME updated CDC’s prediction model with the past three months of WHO reports to forecast cases in both countries. Through Jan. 20, 2015, when the CDC’s worst-case model predicted 1.4 million cases, the updated model forecasts roughly 53,000 cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Updated Prediction for Liberia

By Jan. 20, 2015, the updated model forecasts 21,00 cases in Liberia.

Updated Prediction for Sierra Leone

The updated model predicts just over 32,000 cases in Sierra Leone by Jan. 20, 2015.

Methodology

CDC multiplies all case numbers by 2.5 to correct for underreporting. The CDC prediction model is adjusted to match the trajectory shown from the updated data, taken from the WHO situation reports.

TIME

Create Your Own James Bond Cast

007's got a new title and a whole new cast. Here's your chance to draft the next slate of stars

On Thursday, we learned the name and full cast for the 24th James Bond movie, which will be released in theaters in Oct. 2015. Daniel Craig will suit up again as the movies’ most famous spy in a picture to be called “Spectre.” Along with Craig, the film will star Monia Bellucci and Lea Seydoux as “Bond girls” Lucia Sciarra and Madeleine Swann. Ben Whishaw returns as gadget man Q. Ralph Fiennes will be the new spy chief M.

With more than a half century of history, few film series have driven greater debate about casting choices. Would you rather see Angelina Jolie or Idris Elba bump Craig out of the lead role? Think the Bond bosses should drop the “Bond Girl” role entirely and make Benedict Cumberbatch play the next generation of eye candy? Here’s your chance to select your own fantasy James Bond cast. Cast all five roles, and your selection will be saved to share with friends using the buttons below.

Photographs and actor information via IMDB.

Read next: James Bond is Back and the New Cast Has Been Revealed

TIME

Here Are the American Counties That Struggle Most With Hunger

One in seven Americans face food insecurity. This map shows where people are hurting

While millions of Americans prepare Thanksgiving feasts, 23 million households will get by with the assistance of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, which provide financial help to low and no-income individuals.

To make better sense of these numbers, TIME mapped every household receiving SNAP in 2012, the latest year for which Census data was available across all counties. Use the search bar to see how many are battling hunger by county.

 

Methodology

Data comes from the Census Bureau’s 5-year estimates for 2012.

TIME

See Where Uber Faces the Biggest Competition

Itching to ditch the ride-sharing app? Your alternatives are limited but growing

For those crying foul this week over Uber’s violation of user privacy and alleged sexism, there’s a growing list of alternatives – that is, if you live in a major U.S. city.

Since its founding in 2008, Uber, the dominant ride-sharing service, has spread to 132 cities of the at least 147 U.S. cities with taxi alternatives provided by ride-sharing companies. Uber faces no major competitor in 54 of those cities.

But Uber’s three major competitors – Lyft, Curb and Sidecar – are catching up. By coverage, Lyft appears to be Uber’s chief rival, with drivers in over half as many cities. In two cities, Lyft faces no major rival while Curb operates in four cities without a major competitor. Seven cities are now home to all four competitors: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Charlotte, Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Click on the company labels to show cities with that company.

 

Methodology

Cities are taken from Sidecar, Uber, Lyft and Curb websites, and manually edited where different names were used for the same geographic area.

This post was updated on Nov 25 with new cities.

TIME

See How Much Every Top Artist Makes on Spotify

Taylor Swift had October's top-earning single before pulling her music from the streaming service

Taylor Swift’s recent decision to yank her music off of Spotify, the online music streaming service used by more than 50 million people, has become the latest episode in the battle over the music industry’s diminishing profits.

One central mystery in the drama: just how much do artists make when their songs are played on the service? We used Spotify’s stated payout range – $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream – to calculate how much the top 50 songs streamed globally earned artists in 2014. See the bar charts below for each song. The payout range represents the top and bottom figures for each song as described by Spotify’s latest publicly available formula.

Spotify provided its “per stream” range in 2013 in an attempt to satisfy curiosity about the company’s royalties formula, which factors in total revenue made by Spotify and total streams across the site, both unavailable to the public. Regardless of the exact per stream payout each month, Swift’s chart-topping single “Shake It Off” earned more than any other song in October. But having spent only 7 weeks on Spotify, Swift’s single can’t compete with the top 20 best-paying songs from the first 10 months of 2014, like Calvin Harris’s “Summer,” which could have netted the Scottish singer $1.7 million.

Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek has said that since the company was founded in 2008 it has paid out $2 billion to record labels and publishers, half of that total in the last year alone. In a recent blog post, he said that an artist of Swift’s size could earn $6 million by streaming her music on Spotify in the past year.

When contacted by TIME last week, a Spotify spokesperson said Swift had earned $2 million off global streaming of her music in the past year. Swift’s record label, Nashville-based Big Machine, said last week that it had received exactly $496,044 for domestic streaming of Swift’s music over the past 12 months.

While few are going to fear that Swift is about to go begging, the fact that the country’s best-selling artist believes Spotify devalues her work could have a major influence on whether other artists stick with the service.

I’m always up for trying something,” Swift told TIME about joining Spotify. “And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things.”

Read Taylor Swift’s interview with TIME.

Read more about Taylor Swift’s Spotify paycheck mystery.

Read next: Sony Rethinks Spotify Collaboration, Taking a Cue from Taylor Swift

TIME interactive

This Chart Shows How Much Americans Love Divided Government

Since the origins of the Republican Party, more than 150 years ago, rival powers tend to occupy the Senate and Oval Office

Senators wishing for a long career in Washington would do well to root against their party when it comes to presidential elections.

A two-term president commonly loses seats in Congress in the sixth year of his presidency. In fact, pretty much any election is bad for the president’s party, at least as far as the Senate goes. Even with only a third of the seats up for election every cycle, the president’s party is about twice as likely to lose seats in the upper chamber as it is to gain them.

 

Tuesday’s elections were no exception to the rule. Even if Republicans take Alaska and Louisiana this year, for a 9 seat gain, seven elections in the 20th century saw higher seat turnovers. In 1980, Republicans picked up 12 seats to take control of the Senate as Ronald Reagan won the presidency–only to lose it again six years later. In 1866, Republicans saw the largest gain in history with 18 seats, but this was largely due to Southern states rejoining the Union. Democrats came close to breaking that record when they picked up 16 seats in 1958, by snagging 13 from Republicans and gaining three seats with the addition of Alaska and Hawaii.

For all the hand-wringing over partisan gridlock in Washington, Americans seem intent on preventing one party from controlling both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Source: Senate.gov

TIME interactive

Are You a J. Crew Democrat or a Pizza Hut Republican?

Check out this chart and search tool to see the political leanings of the places that Starbucks, Walmart, and 2,700 other companies call home

If you live near a Ben & Jerry’s or a few Dunkin’ Donuts outposts, odds are good that your Congressional district elected a Democrat on Tuesday. More familiar with the inside of a Pizza Hut or a Long John Silver’s? Chances are you’ll be represented next year by a Republican.

The following chart places 49 common brands on a political spectrum based on the percentage of their brick-and-mortar stores that are located in Democratic or Republican districts. To do this, TIME matched nearly 2 million store locations provided by the research company AggData to their corresponding Congressional district and then tallied them by that district’s vote in 2014 midterms. Of the 139 American Apparel stores, for example, 83 percent are in blue districts. Nearly nine in 10 Belk department stores, meanwhile, can be found in red districts. All the other brands on the chart fall somewhere in between. You can look for any store you like in the search tool below the graphic.

There is no evidence, of course, that a regular infusion of banana ice cream and fudge chunks inspires a person toward liberalism. Because two-thirds of the Ben & Jerry’s in the United States are found in Democratic districts, however, the mere presence of a store in a district raises the statistical odds that its residents are people who vote for Democrats.

While stores like Whole Foods or Hobby Lobby might already conjure partisan stereotypes, the vast majority of America’s brands do not. Even so, where these stores are located tells us a tremendous amount about who their shoppers are sending to Washington.

Methodology

The list of retail locations was provided by AggData. Stores were matched to Congressional district by comparing their longitude and latitude to the Census definitions of districts. The results do not include the 14 Congressional races that have yet to be resolved as of 6:00 AM on Nov. 6, 2014.

Read next: How the World Sees America Now

Correction: The interactive chart originally linked the incorrect record for Armani Exchange when the user clicked the icon in the chart. It has since been updated.

TIME 2014 Election

Election 2014: Latest Results Scorecard

Midterms Elections Held Across The U.S.
A man fills walks past voting signs displayed outside a polling station during the mid-term elections November 4, 2014 in Hamtramck, Michigan. Joshua Lott—Getty Images

See who has won the the most important races

Here are the key races to determine Senate control, along with tossup House races and key ballot measures. The scorecard will update as polls begin to close at 7 p.m. Eastern Time.

Can’t wait that long? Here’s where to look for bellwethers and hints as the polls come in.

 

TIME

Predict Who Will Win the Senate in 2014

Forget Nate Silver. Anyone can be a political handicapper. Place your bets on whether the Democrats or the Republicans will be victorious on Election Day

The professional election handicappers in Washington and New York are trying to cut you out of the process. They are using their fancy number machines to predict which party will control the U.S. Senate next year. The Washington Post says Republicans have a 91% chance of getting at least 51 seats, while the The New York Times and ESPN’s Nate Silver say there is a 63% chance.

But you shouldn’t let them do it alone. In America anyone can handicap an election. We’ve provided each candidate’s political strength and liabilities. And we’ve left out the political party to make you think harder about the individual candidates. So have at it. Tell us all who is going to win in each of the next ten races, and we’ll tell you who will win the Senate. Then share on Twitter and Facebook.

 

*Polling numbers from RealClearPolitics.

TIME ebola

How Ebola Hysteria Could Help Contain Flu Season

Since Ebola’s first symptoms resemble that of the flu, fears about Ebola could drive an influx of patients to doctors and emergency rooms with flu symptoms, who might otherwise have stayed home, doctors say. Each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 5% and 20% of Americans get the flu, though most don’t see their doctor. In 2011, the last year for which data is available, 1,532 Americans died from influenza.

That number gives a sense of which disease is more dangerous to the greatest number of Americans. While only three people have been diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, nearly 40 percent of Americans say they are concerned that someone in their family will get the deadly virus within a year, a Harvard Public Health poll found last week.

While the media and polls depict an American public that is acutely fearful about Ebola, there is only modest evidence of a widespread change in behavior thus far. That could change as flu season kicks off, especially if new cases of Ebola arise in the United States. “We might expect to see an increase in people seeking health care for influenza like illness this season,” said Dr. Richard Webby, the director of a World Health Organization center studying influenza. But Webby described the flu as “background noise,” for its potential interference in efforts to contain Ebola.

For those who do see a doctor, the CDC tracks the percentage of visits in which the patients report flu-like symptoms, regardless of whether he or she actually has the flu. This figure is the best to follow to determine how fears over Ebola are influencing Americans’ response to the flu. Since March of this year, the percentage of flu related visits has been higher than the same period in 2013. This uptick approximately correlates with the rise of Ebola new coverage.

Percentage of Outpatient Visits Reporting Flu Symptoms

There is a historical precedent for fears of a pandemic raising concerns among those with the regular flu. CDC epidemiologist Lynnette Brammer, who developed the surveillance program for tracking flu cases, recounts a more dramatic trend in 2009. “During the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, we did see an increase of people going to the doctor with flu-like symptoms,” she said. “Normally they would have stayed at home, but because they were worried about H1N1, they got tested.”

Over 200 labs submit specimens tested for flu to CDC’s flu surveillance network. The number of specimens tested each week, graphed below, rises along with the increase in patients with flu symptoms. Fear over Ebola may explain this rise, though the most recent uptick in October marks the beginning of a new flu season, in which CDC added 120 new laboratories.

Number of Specimens Tested for Flu

Of course, the severity of the flu varies from year to year, which could also account for any change. Of the specimens tested above, the 2014 strain of the flu outpaced the 2013 version through May, but now appears indistinguishable.

Percent of Specimens Tested Positive for Flu

With additional reporting by Pratheek Rebala.

Methodology

Data from the Centers for Disease Control weekly influenza reports.

Read next: Your Ultimate Guide to What Works (and Doesn’t Work) to Prevent Flu

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