Mandan woman takes COVID-19 record-keeping into her own hands

Local News

A Mandan woman with an autoimmune disease has taken it upon herself to inform North Dakota about the crisis-level the coronavirus is at here at home.

As cases began to take a sharper climb in August, she wanted to use her skills to paint a more clear picture.

You may recognize her Facebook page: “North Dakota Covid-19 Statistics -unofficial”. It has close to 1,400 followers after all.

This has been Jenn Kary’s outlet for months. The substitute teacher and mother posts statistics and trends she’s calculated using state data to tell the story of one of the worst outbreaks in the country, in terms that make sense to everyone.

“I could just tell the trend was going up and I started getting concerns,” Kary shared.

She has been updating her Facebook page just about every day since the beginning of August. But it was months before that, she says she noticed the rate of COVID-19 infections in North Dakota was worse than state officials were making it sound. Kary started doing the calculations for her own knowledge and clarity in a notebook, which has since been upgraded to an Excel spreadsheet.

“They’re using the numbers to paint a rosier picture than what was actually going on,” Kary added.

For example, the state, on Wednesday posted a positivity rate of 12.31%.

Kary’s page shows three different ways of looking at the positivity rate. One shows that of the 532 people who got tested for the very first time, 21.5% were positive, a much more staggering number.

“It doesn’t make it wrong,” Kary said.

“But depending on what data you choose, it can paint a different picture.”

All of this information is pulled straight from the state’s coronavirus dashboard. She’s just breaking things down a little further into terms people can relate to.

“A lot of people say, you know, ‘Driving a car is a risk too’. And it’s like, ‘Yes, it is’. But I mean there’s a big difference in risk.”

A post Kary made in November, comparing the risk of dying in a vehicle versus dying of the coronavirus

A chart she started just a few weeks back shows how many people have died, are hospitalized, and more based on population.

Although Ward County has the most total deaths as of Wednesday at 126, Dickey County is in the worst situation per capita. 1 out of every 189 people in the county has died of the virus.

“You have to know what you’re looking for in order to understand how that is applied to your everyday life,” Kary explained.

It all hit closer to home for her, after she, her husband, and daughter came down with the virus.

“I was the first one to get sick and I hadn’t left the house in over 10 days. That’s just how prevalent COVID is right now,” she shared.

Her husband spent six days in the hospital.

“We almost lost him,” Kary said.

Thankfully, her family is well now and Kary says she’ll keep doing this until the virus slows down.

Active cases peaked in the state about a week and a half ago and Kary says the slight downward arch is encouraging, but a week and a half isn’t quite long enough to call it a trend.

Her biggest fear is that people will let their guard down with the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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