What are your chances of coming into contact with someone who has COVID-19? This tool will tell you

Just how likely are you to come into contact with someone who has the COVID-19 virus as you go home for the holidays, go to a wedding or even to a crowded store?

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A record-breaking surge in U.S. COVID-19 cases in the past week is being traced not only to large events considered “super spreader” happenings but to smaller gatherings, such as family get-togethers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

The White House coronavirus task force has also reported that maskless get-togethers of family and friends in some states are causing “ongoing transmission, frequently infecting multiple people in a single gathering.”

So, how can you determine the risk of coming into contact with someone who has the COVID-19 virus, whether it is at a holiday event or during your daily activities?

Georgia Tech professors Joshua Weitz, and Clio Andris have developed a tool that can help you assess the risk of attending events both small and large.

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool looks at both crowd size and what part of the country you are in to calculate the risk of coming into contact with someone who is infected with the virus.

The tool takes into account any size space at any location in the country. It allows users to enter the estimated number of people at a gathering and then shows the difference that crowd size makes when it comes to the chance of coming into contact with someone who has the COVID-19 virus.

The map is updated daily as new information on local virus cases are recorded by public health officials.

“In a way it’s like a weather map,” Andris told the Los Angeles Times. “It can tell you what the risk is that it will rain, but it can’t tell you if you’ll get wet. That depends on if you carry an umbrella, or if you choose not to go outside at all.” To use the tool, click on this link. Look on the left side of the page and find the slider labeled “Event Size.” You can then set the size of the crowd or group you may encounter.

Once you do that, look at the map to the right and click on the county you intend to visit. What you will see is the percentage of the risk that you will come into contact with a person infected with the novel coronavirus if you attend the event in that place.

There is also a setting that assumes the real number of cases of COVID-19 are five to 10 times higher than official reports. You can select either the five or 10 Ascertainment Bias setting to see those number values.


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