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Meet the man behind COVID-19 data

Posted at 6:13 AM, Apr 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-05 06:18:57-04

KENT COUNTY — Mike Fortman is a number's guy. He oversees the data warehouse used to store the numbers tracking COVID-19 in West Michigan and he's also responsible for the two main data dashboards on Access Kent and Vaccinate West Michigan.

“I would say that i built a data warehouse of all the data out of the MDSS since last March that's the Michigan Disease Surveillance System. It has over 7 million rows of data in it.”

That's roughly 400,000-word document pages of numbers from derived from Michigan Disease Surveillance System and health departments.

Current numbers show cases are on the rise in Michigan and the correlations speak for themselves.

“I can say that we're rising faster now than we were in October,” said Fortman.

Remember when the state shut down back in November. Despite the vaccine roll out, Mike's data shows an unsettling rise in cases like what we saw last year.

“Our case rate increase is as almost equivalent or even a little bit faster. now in March, then it was back in October when we started the last surge.The science is then sent to the Kent County Health Department where the tough decisions are made to close schools and limit occupancy in businesses and public spaces. But not all the numbers are bad.

"The age groups, the people that are vaccinated, age 70, over, we've seen that percentage of the population that's COVID positive, and that age group is reduced by over 50%,” he said.

Current numbers are based on the recent effort to follow vaccination efforts across the state. The data shows an increase in positive rates are happening among students and people in their thirties.

So at the moment, I don't see anything yet that says we're slowing down on this current surge doesn't mean it's not going happen,” Fortman said.

New numbers are published daily from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday. The data is ever growing with new maps and interactive graphs data to find new correlations. Mike says the best way to not get lost in the numbers.