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Hopkins coronavirus map incorrectly displays confirmed case in Baltimore County due to unspecified ‘mapping issue’

A screenshot of Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus map taken around 10 a.m. on Monday March 9 incorrectly shows a confirmed case in Baltimore County.
A screenshot of Johns Hopkins University's coronavirus map taken around 10 a.m. on Monday March 9 incorrectly shows a confirmed case in Baltimore County. (Screenshot)

The Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus dashboard, which displays the number of cases around the world, erroneously listed a case in Baltimore County on Monday — and then removed it, blaming an unspecified “mapping issue."

Two more Marylanders — an 86-year-old Harford County woman who traveled to Turkey, and a Montgomery County man in his 60s who had traveled to Thailand and Egypt — tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of cases in the state to five as of Monday afternoon, according to Gov. Larry Hogan. The three others, who were diagnosed with the coronavirus after a cruise in Egypt, live in Montgomery County.

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But a sixth case, listed for hours as “confirmed” in Baltimore County, was removed from the Hopkins map after The Baltimore Sun asked about it Monday.

“It was a mapping issue that has since been corrected,” university spokesman Doug Donovan said in an email.

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The coronavirus, which initially broke out in China late last year, has spread to more than 100,000 cases across more than 90 countries around the world. More than 600 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., with 22 of those fatal.

Anxiety and a lack of reliable information about the spread of the virus worldwide prompted Hopkins to develop the online COVID Dashboard, according to Lauren Gardner, associate professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering, who developed it.

The cases are automatically input in China and manually input in the U.S., she said. As of last week, it was being opened 1.2 billion times a day.

“This really speaks to this huge demand for trustworthy, reliable information,” Gardner said during a briefing on Capitol Hill on Friday.

Six other Marylanders who were on the Egyptian cruise are in isolation and will be tested for the disease, Hogan said. Two of them are displaying symptoms.

Another dozen Marylanders are aboard the Grand Princess that has been off the coast of California, but none of them are showing symptoms, Hogan said Monday. They and other passengers on the ship will be taken to military facilities for isolation.

Hopkins spokeswoman Jill Rosen characterized the error on the map as a “glitch” and said she would look into its cause. She did not respond before publication time; this article will be updated if and when the university provides a response.

Maryland is shifting its focus from containing the virus to mitigating its impact, Hogan said.

The Republican governor has signed emergency legislation granting him the authority to transfer $50 million from the state’s “rainy day fund” for the outbreak response, he said Monday.

The governor has canceled all out-of-state business travel for state employees, and he encouraged residents over 60 and with compromised health to avoid large gatherings.

State officials plan to meet with representatives from the long-term care industry Tuesday to ensure older residents are being monitored and protected from exposure.

“We can expect the number of cases to continue to rise,” Hogan said.

Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood and Scott Dance contributed to this article.

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