Debates raised on social media after Harvard map shows most North Dakota Counties at highest Risk level for spreading COVID-19

Published: Sep. 23, 2020 at 9:23 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) -

For the past several days, many in North Dakota have been sharing a post on Social Media which compares two maps showing stark contrasts in their COVID-19 Risk Levels. The one was provided by the North Dakota Department of Health while another is from the Harvard Global Health Institute. The map from Harvard shows the majority of the state at the highest risk level for spreading COVID19.

The reaction on social media, with what we can see from public posts, is showing a mostly negative response to the State Department of Health. Users reacted by claiming the department was corrupt or downplaying the illness and others accusing them of not accurately showing the risk level of COVID-19 in North Dakota

When we reached out to the North Dakota Department of Health for comment, they told us that the maps are not an apples to apples comparison.

For the North Dakota Department of Health, they rely on a 14-day average of active cases per 10,000 people along with the average number of tests performed and the average percent positive rate. The Department of Health also told us that they factor in population density, deaths, hospitalization rates, and current active cases within a county. The Harvard Map only uses the 7-day average of new daily cases per *100,000 people*. Because of this, 25 or more daily new cases per 100,000 people gets that county put into the red category on the Harvard map.

For an example of how this data is applied, the Harvard Map says that Macintosh County is a high risk area, while the Department of Health map has it classified in the lowest level. According to the Department of Health, There have been 61 total COVID-19 cases in the area, but because of the small population in that county, the rate per 100,000 people there is 2,360 which is why it is in the highest level on the Harvard map.

The Department of Health also told us that they will be looking to add more specifics on how their data is collected and display it on their website.

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