The COVID-19 virus has certainly had its share of controversy. Lack of honesty in presenting data to the public does not help. One of the more blatant misrepresentations was uncovered in Kansas through a freedom of information request made by the Kansas Policy Institute. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment released a chart that purported to show that the 15 counties that had followed Governor Laura Kelly’s mask mandate were successful in reducing COVID-19 cases at a far greater rate than the 90 counties that failed to enforce the mandate.
The chart however, used different y axes for the county groups. So, of course the 90 counties would seem to have a higher number of cases.
The Kansas Policy Center decided to take the data it obtained and do what most of us learned in sixth grade: When doing comparison graphs, plot two different color lines using the same x and y axes.
Take a look at the graph and you will see the counties without the mandate did better. You will also see that the Kansas DHE chose not to start its graphs until July 12, which was 9 days after the mandate went into effect. The Kansas Policy Institute chose to start on Day One of the mask mandate, and the 90 counties did even better in that period.
Conflicting reports about COVID-19 data are troubling. One cannot really follow the science if there are two sets of data for the same events. The Barometer thinks back to a now departed and dear colleague who once said in a meeting during which we huddled over a PhD candidate’s puzzling research data, “Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure.” Politics makes for some figuring and even stranger charts in these “all is political” times.