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Verify: Claim about Kent County COVID-19 cases, recovery rate is false

Dr. Adam London says the county comes nowhere near what the article suggests.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — An article from a website that appears to be local news made an inaccurate claim about Kent County's COVID-19 cases and recovery rate, and that headline is making the rounds on social media. 

The story from the Grand Rapids Reporter, which is a part of Metric Media, offers this headline: "State Report: Kent County COVID recovery rate 99.94% through June 30." However, Dr. Adam London with the Kent County Health Department says the basis for that calculation is false. 

The article claims that between March 1 and June 27, Kent County had more than 223,000 estimated COVID-19 cases. It then says 99.94% of those cases recovered.

Credit: Grand Rapids Reporter
Dr. Adam London with the Kent County Health Department said this claim is false.

Kent County has about 5,000 diagnosed cases of the virus, but London said the CDC suggests the the actual number of cases in any given area is likely 10 times greater than the number of confirmed cases.

Even with that inflation, London says the county comes nowhere near what the article suggests.

"If you want to apply that assumption from the CDC, that would suggest that maybe we've had 50,000. I think that number comes out to a little less than 8% of our population in Kent County," he said. 

And because that number is false, London says every other statistic in the article will be incorrect too. This includes the recovery rate over 99%.

"Our actual recovery rate is going to be above 97%," says London. "But we don't know exactly what that recovery rate is because we don't know the exact number of people who have been infected."

The Grand Rapids Reporter is one of a dozen websites that popped up last fall, which present local news but with a political spin. 

Back in October, 13 ON YOUR SIDE spoke with Dr. Matt Grossman, director for Michigan State's Institute of Public Policy and Social Research, about Metric Media.

"These folks seemed to have gone out of their way to make it look like this was an unbiased and a local source rather than a political, national conservative source," Grossmann said. 

He noted that some of the information on these sites which are listed for communities across Michigan actually does come from other local websites. 

"It didn't appear to be an outlet that was trying to make money or sell ads or adhere to any journalism standards. It seemed more like an effort to influence the political debate," Grossman said. 

We can verify through Dr. London that the numbers in the Grand Rapids Reporter article are false. He suggests getting the latest Kent County COVID-19 statistics from the Kent County Dashboard.

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