Since the onset of Covid-19, media platforms have inundated the public with sensationalized statistics about testing, fluctuating cases and “flattening the curve”. Even with my diverse mathematical experience, I find the overload of information difficult to decipher and at times downright unnerving. Taken at face value, it appears the United States has a more substantial problem with the virus compared to other countries. This leads people to the conclusion we have not been successful in mitigating the spread of the disease.

I dusted off my Statistical Quality Control manager hat to look at the data from an analytical perspective to help calm my fears and determine if there is a true public concern. Being known as the “chart guy” my go-to move is ALWAYS plot the data first.

Most media outlets flash a chart presenting the total raw numbers of confirmed Covid-19 cases by country (John Hopkins University – as of 4/20/20). This chart visually implies the United States (see the big red bar!) has reported more cases globally than other countries.

Content presentation is everything. This is a recent example of the importance of presenting impeccable data and chart reporting. Correct context is critical when presenting data for broad public usage. From an untrained eye the data looks pretty bleak and implies we are in worse shape compared to others.

As an experienced manager seeing this repeatedly something did not feel right, and I needed to find out for myself what the data truly portrays. Chart 2 transforms the raw data by population of each country based on the total number of Covid-19 cases per million people. This created a new data set of total Covid-19 cases per million people. Same data … charted different ways … demonstrates completely different conclusions. This now shows that the United States (see the smaller red bar) is performing on par with other countries.

During these challenging times Backman Global LLC believes it is critical we present the on-going stream of virus-related data in a correct manner. The charts above show that data presented without correct context can lead to mis-leading conclusions which then generates unwanted fear and anxiety.

Quarantine down-time is the perfect time to review your business metrics. Backman Global LLC would be happy to review your data streams to maximize their value to your business. For more information contact us at

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