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Mayo Clinic launches COVID-19 tracking, modeling tool

The tool will help Minnesotans better understand current trends in their county of residence.
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The Mayo Clinic has launched a COVID-19 tracker that it says will provide up-to-date statistics of how prevalent the coronavirus is in every county in the country, including all 87 in Minnesota. 

What's more is that Mayo Clinic will also soon be presenting short-term projections for how infection rates could increase or decrease, in addition to death projections, though the Star Tribune reports that those predictive inclusions on the public page will only go out a week or two at most. Bring Me The News has asked Mayo when the predictive modeling will be available to the public. 

The main focus of the tracker is to provide people in any given area of Minnesota the opportunity to better assess risk and plan accordingly. 

"COVID-19 infections continue to rise and fall in many areas of the country, and information at the local level on the prevalence of disease and future trends are more important than ever to help people prevent the spread of infection," said Henry Ting, M.D., a cardiologist, health services researcher and educator at Mayo Clinic. 

You can find the interactive map for Minnesota counties here. It shows the statewide positive test rate – the proportion of people who are tested and found to have a current infection – and fatality rate, while also showing how many new cases were reported in the previous 24 hours in each county. 

"This tracker enables people to see ongoing and emerging hot spots across the U.S. ― where they live, where their family and friends live, and where they might travel, along with information from Mayo Clinic experts about risk, diagnoses and treatments," said Ting in a release from Mayo Clinic News Network

One of the oft-cited national models, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine, updates on a regular basis, though its estimates for Minnesota has varied greatly and it has been criticized for its inaccuracies. 

For example, last week the IHME model forecasted approximately 6,100 deaths in Minnesota by the end of the year, but it has since lowered that estimate to 4,990. 

According to the MDH, there have been 1,933 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota so far. To get to 4,990 by New Year's Day the state would need to average about 29 deaths per day over the next 106 days. For context, the MDH has reported 29+ deaths in a 24-hour period just 10 times since the pandemic began, and not once since early June. 

Just over a month ago the IHME model projected 2,399 deaths in Minnesota by Dec. 1, serving as clear evidence that the model is extremely inconsistent despite deaths in the state remaining fairly steady for the past three months. 

"Much remains to be learned about the COVID-19 virus and how it affects a person's health in the short term and longer term," said Ting. "It's vital that people become more aware of local information, what the trends are, and take appropriate action to protect their health and the health of others."

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