Using Data Commons’ Google Sheets API to analyze the COVID-19 pandemic


Throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Data Commons team has been working to upload COVID-19 data as it becomes available, helping public and private sector analysts create evidence-based policy to combat the public health crisis. This tutorial presents an example of how to obtain this data from the Data Commons API and use Google Sheets for visualization of it.

Step 1: Setup

Pull up Google Sheets and create a new, blank spreadsheet. You can title it Data Commons COVID-19 analysis or any other name of your choosing.

To enable the Data Commons API in your spreadsheet, ensure that the Data Commons extension is installed and available under the Extensions tab in the main menu. Hover over the Data Commons menu item, then click on the Fill Place DCIDs option.

A menu should pop up on the right side of the Sheets web application. Type the name of any place desired; its DCID should populate into the A1 entry of the chart. This step is required to enable the Data Commons API.

Next, double-click on A1 in the chart and type country/USA.

Step 2: Retrieving place names and DCIDs from Data Commons

To obtain the DCIDs for all the states, you can use the plugin function DCPLACESIN. Type =DCPLACESIN(A1, "State") into cell B1. Sheets will provide pointers to help guide your function inputs. Your spreadsheet output should look like this:

Finally, you’ll want to retrieve the state names and position them conveniently near these DCIDs. You can use the plugin function DCGETNAME to access this information. Type =DCGETNAME(B1) in cell C1, then click and drag to repeat this formula throughout the C column. Your final output should look like this:

Step 3: Populating the spreadsheet with COVID information

In this tutorial, you will be analyzing each state’s cumulative count of deaths due to COVID as of December 15, 2020. To do this, you will need to get the value of the statistical variable CumulativeCount_MedicalConditionIncident_COVID_19_PatientDeceased for each state on the date specified. You can use the DCGET method to do this.

Type =DCGET(B1, "CumulativeCount_MedicalConditionIncident_COVID_19_PatientDeceased", "2020-12-15") into cell D1, then click and drag to repeat this formula throughout the D column. Your final output should look like this:

Step 4: Visualizing the data

As a final step, you can use Google’s Geo Chart option to map this data! Select cell arrays C1:C52 and D1:D52, then click on the Chart option under Insert in the main menu. Your spreadsheet will look a bit like this:

Feel free to drag the histogram out of the way of the numbers! As a final step, under Chart type in the right sidebar, click on the map. Under the chart customization options, you can click on the Geo dropdown, then select the United States region to display your results. Your final sheet should look something like this:

If you’d like to experiment more with the data and methods from this tutorial, check out You can copy the spreadsheet at Note that you will need to enable the Sheets API as in Step 1 to retrieve the data for analysis.