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To chart a path through coronavirus, Aaren Ellsworth plots a solution

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a time of uncertainty for everyone. Simple questions like “should I send my kid to sports practice” has turned into a head-spinning debate. Aaren Ellsworth decided that she wanted to simplify that debate.

For her own use, Ellsworth has been putting together graphs to chart the coronavirus situation in Kodiak.

“…it just kind of helps me to think about what kind of activity I want to have for my family in the community based on what other communities are advising at various risk levels,” Ellsworth said.

These graphs are from 11/20/20, following the EOC’s daily reports.

She does two graphs daily to give her a picture of the situation in Kodiak. One is a simple bar graph that charts daily COVID cases, with different colors representing community spread. The other charts 14-day average cases per 100,000 people, with lines representing points of high risk due to elevated case count. She admits that this second graph isn’t necessarily as actionable as the first.

“I think the big thing is probably on that 14-day daily average case, you’ve got to kind of have a little bit of understanding of what that’s showing you, you’d have to know that that’s, that is expanding each Kodiak case by about a magnitude of seven,” Ellsworth said.

“And that it’s that it’s not telling us there’s, you know, 20 cases in Kodiak, it’s telling us that that’s a per capita thing to compare with other places. And so that’s, that’s a little technical, maybe for people to just understand at a glance.”

Ellsworth finds the graphs personally useful, but acknowledges that she isn’t an official source.

“… I don’t have any public health or medical qualification, so I don’t have any way to advise, which, which of those would be the appropriate one to use. It’s really just kind of a tool to maybe think about what our community is doing.”

Health officials warn about an over-reliance on data- which can be skewed if not viewed through the proper lens.

They say COVID-19 is a moving target that has become increasingly difficult to track, and is really just a snapshot of a much bigger picture which is full of unknowns- for instance, the actual number of infected people in a region who have yet to be tested.