How likely is it you’ll encounter at least one person who is infected with the coronavirus if you go to a bar in Denver? What about a 100-person wedding in Baltimore? Or a Thanksgiving dinner with 25 guests in Los Angeles?
The answers to these questions — and many more — can be found on the free, intuitive, and now peer-reviewed COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool. Built by a team of researchers at Georgia Tech, the tool is designed to help policy makers, event planners and individuals easily grasp the risks associated with gatherings of different sizes throughout the United States, and increasingly across the world.
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(And if you’re curious, as of Nov. 9, you’d have a 78% chance of encountering someone with an active coronavirus infection at the Denver bar, a 68% chance at the wedding in Baltimore, and a roughly 25% chance at the L.A. Thanksgiving meal.)
The COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool was conceived in March by Joshua Weitz, a quantitative biologist at Georgia Tech who wanted an easy way to quantify the risk of attending events of various sizes in different locations.
The first iteration was a graph that took into account the number of infections per capita in any given county, along with the size of a proposed event. Later, that same information was overlaid on a map to make it even easier for users to understand.
To find out how likely you are to encounter a coronavirus-infected person at a friend’s white elephant party for instance, you simply open the tool, move the slider on the left of the map to the number of people you expect to attend (let’s say 15), then hover your cursor over the outline of the county where the event will take place (let’s say Santa Cruz).
The tool will tell you that if the gathering were held today, there is an 8% chance someone will bring the virus along with a pair of novelty socks.
What it can’t tell you, however, is whether an 8% chance of sharing space with someone capable of infecting you is too high to make your attendance worthwhile.
That decision is up to you.
“In a way it’s like a weather map,” said Clio Andris, a professor of city and regional planning and interactive computing at Georgia Tech who helped Weitz build out…