North Dakota Has More Coronavirus Cases Because We’re Doing More Than Anyone Else to Look for Them


MINOT, N.D. — If you watched the recent debate in North Dakota’s gubernatorial race, hosted by Prairie Public, you realize just how useful a political weapon the coronavirus outbreak has become.

Give credit, then, to Governor Doug Burgum and other leaders in his administration for unflinchingly pursuing as much data about the outbreak as they can, even though that data has often proved to be politically inconvenient.

“If North Dakota was a country, it would have the world’s worst confirmed COVID-19 outbreak,” read a recent headline from my colleague Michelle Griffith, citing an analysis that’s been making the rounds on social media.

“The Czech Republic currently has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases per million people worldwide. But if North Dakota was its own nation, it would surpass the per capita COVID-19 case count of the central European country,” the lead of her report stated.

There’s a problem with that analysis, though. Not every country, and not even every American state, is looking for the coronavirus in the same way North Dakota is.

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