Above: Tracking public COVID-19 testing data in Excel with Power Query In this article, I want to share a quick example of how to track testing for COVID-19 using Excel and publicly available data. This is a bare bones tutorial, focused only on the basics of connecting Excel with publicly available data.  The end result is a simple Excel table that shows the most recent testing data by state. The data is fetched and “shaped” with Power Query, then dropped back into Excel, where it can be refreshed with a single click. The approach is general and can be used with all kinds of public data. The complete Excel file is attached below for reference.

The data

For this example, we’re going to use data from the COVID tracking project website. The COVID Tracking Project collects data at the U.S. State level on testing for coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. The data is not perfect, and varies state-by-state. You can read more about it on the website. The API for requesting data is explained here. In this example, we are fetching “States Current Values” data which, as of this writing contains 19 columns, most of which we discard.


This project depends on Power Query, so you’ll need Excel 2013 or later on Windows. On the Mac, you can refresh queries with Office 365 Excel, but I don’t think you can edit or create queries yet? I’ll update when I have better info.

Getting the data into Excel

The best tool for the job is Power Query. Power Query is part of Microsoft’s BI suite. In a nutshell, Power Query is a tool for fetching, cleaning, and shaping data. If you are new to Power Query, be aware that it has a vast feature set and an intimidating interface. Even if you spend a lot of time in Excel, you are going to feel like you’ve landed in an alien world. Familiar, yet distinctly different. Never fear, we are going to keep things as simple as possible. There are many ways this example can be improved or embellished once you get things working.

High-level overview

To orient you, here are the high level steps we are going to perform: The first two steps happen in Excel. The last two steps are done in power query. Once you have the query set up, you can right-click inside the table and select refresh. Fresh data will be collected, and the data will be shaped according to the steps defined in the query. 

Steps to create the query

April 2 - the data for this project has been changing as more columns are tracked in the same file. The steps below need to be updated slightly, but the query in the attached Excel workbook is current. These are the steps I used to create the query that fetches data from the tracking website.

Refreshing data

To fetch the latest data, right-click in the table and select “Refresh”. 

Power Query will pull down a fresh set of source data, run through the steps defined above, and deliver the result back to Excel. The screens below show the data on March 26 (before refresh, and March 27 (after refresh).

Back in Excel

Once the data is in an Excel table, I added a column called “pos %” that calculates what percentage of total tests are positive with this formula: This is just something I was curious about. It could be added in Power Query instead (before loading to Excel) but to keep things simple, the formula was added manually in Excel. Since it lives in an Excel Table, it stays up to date when date changes. Then I added formulas to summarize the data: Note: most of these formulas use structured references, the formula syntax for Excel Tables.

How to edit the query

More data

Here are a few more Coronavirus datasets with sample files you can try out.


Dave Bruns

Hi - I’m Dave Bruns, and I run Exceljet with my wife, Lisa. Our goal is to help you work faster in Excel. We create short videos, and clear examples of formulas, functions, pivot tables, conditional formatting, and charts.

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