Coronavirus map misleadingly pinpoints North Central Washington

An interactive map showing cases of 2019 novel coronavirus displays a marker near Coles Corner. No cases of the disease have been detected there, although a single Washington state case has been confirmed in Snohomish County. (Johns Hopkins University Center For Systems Science and Engineering)

WENATCHEE — At first glance, an interactive map of the novel coronavirus spread appears to show a case in the Wenatchee Valley – but looks can be deceiving.

Only one case has been verified in Washington, and that’s in Snohomish County. But the interactive map from Johns Hopkins University places a locator, called a “centroid,” at the geographic center of Washington State — which happens to be near Winton and Coles Corner, in the neighborhood of Lake Wenatchee. No coronavirus there.

In mathematical terms, a centroid is the center of a mass — so the map marker refers to the whole of Washington state, not the precise location where a coronavirus case is identified.

As of Friday there have been six novel coronavirus cases confirmed in the entire United States. In Ellensburg, a Central Washington University student who traveled abroad is now undergoing tests for the flulike illness that’s infected 9,700 people in 23 countries.

The Kittitas County Public Health Department announced Thursday the student went to the CWU campus clinic showing signs of illness, and is now in isolation awaiting test results. Those should be known in 48 to 72 hours. The health department will also monitor people who’ve had contact with that person.

So far all of the estimated 213 deaths from the coronavirus have occurred in China. The U.S. State Department on Thursday advised Americans not to travel there.