Minnesota, which has 789 positive cases with 24,227 people tested, has a rate of 1.4 positive cases per 10,000 population.
Deborah White, professor of social statistics at Minnesota State University Moorhead, noticed this disparity and recently posted about it on Facebook. Figures show that North Dakota’s COVID-19 infection rate is higher than that of Minnesota, which has a denser population. It should be noted that North Dakota is one of a handful of states that have not issued residence orders or closed non-essential businesses in response to the pandemic.
“I was just at home and calculating the numbers. One important thing, even when I looked at it, there is data that we don’t have, we don’t know, like we don’t know how many people haven’t had a test, “said White.
Later, she compared Cass County, N.D., and Clay County, Minn., And found even more alarming figures.
“It’s an apple-to-apple comparison,” said White. In a Facebook article, she added, “Our two communities are very similar and share the same access to testing and medical care. There are two important differences: 1. Clay County started to impose social distance earlier and 2. Cass County is more densely populated. “
White, who is also a city councilor for Moorhead, said he found the statistical analysis “shocking”. She does not speak in an official capacity, but fears that her neighboring state, North Dakota, will not take the pandemic seriously enough.
Clay County, with an estimated population of 64,222, has eight confirmed cases of COVID-19, which means that 1.2 per 10,000 people have been infected. The more populous Cass County, with around 181,293 people, has so far had 46 confirmed cases, which means that 2.5 per 10,000 people have been infected.
While the numbers aren’t wrong, the difference doesn’t necessarily mean that the North Dakotans are more at risk than the Minnesotans, said Dr. Paul Carson, NDSU professor and director of infection prevention and control at Sanford Health in Fargo.
“Our incidence curve remains fairly flat, with much of the country doubling every two to five days,” said Carson. “And, we tested our population at a rate of 6/1,000, where Minnesota only tested 3.7 / 1,000 of its population, much less than us, so we can’t really say for sure what is going on with their epidemic. . ”
If a fourth person dies from the North Dakota pandemic, the data will be skewed “dramatically” due to the state’s much smaller population, said Carson.
“What I am delighted about is the aggressive push that the (North Dakota Department of Health) has made to increase our testing capacity, and we are much better placed with that than the rest of the country,” said Carson.
Governor Tim Walz ordered the Minnesotans to stay at home from March 25 to April 10, which effectively shut down the state.
At a press conference on Wednesday, April 1, North Dakota governor Doug Burgum raised the subject of a residence order, saying that such a directive was not out of reach. Burgum added on Thursday that he had received calls that because he had not ordered the state closed, he endangered neighboring states.
“But we’re among the best – which means we have a small percentage of positive tests,” said Burgum. “We are doing a better job of testing… We have carried out 5.9 tests per 1,000 inhabitants. We are in the top 10, and with the plans we have in place, we want to stay in the top 10. ”Success depends on slowing the spread of the virus. ”
Burgum again encouraged residents of counties where the coronavirus has yet to be detected to comply with regulations for up to 10 people in a group. “Even in our communities where you don’t think it has happened to you yet, please act as if it was already there,” he said.
Burgum office spokesman Mike Nowatzki said comparing the number of positive tests per capita by state was not a useful indicator if one state had done many more tests per capita than the other. North Dakota tested 76.1 per 10,000 people, while Minnesota tested 42.5 per 10,000 people, according to a Forum analysis.
But White poses a different question.
“North Dakota was in the top 10 for testing, but I wonder if that is not a false sense of security, saying” we are at the top “, especially since Minnesota is not so far behind North Dakota when I watched it. It’s not that they are much more aggressive in testing in North Dakota than in Minnesota, “said White.
“I don’t envision this like Central Park and the creation of hospitals in Fargo Parks, but I know it wouldn’t be so difficult for our health care providers to be overwhelmed. People have to take this more seriously. “
Fargo mayor Tim Mahoney acknowledged that people don’t take social distance seriously enough. Cell phone tracking data shows that Minnesotans are ranked much higher than North Dakotans when they stay at home, he said.
“We have to step up our game because I don’t think people are listening as well as they should,” said Mahoney.
Forum reporter April Baumgarten contributed to this report.