Is that holiday gathering too risky? New tool helps you decide

If you are on the fence about your Thanksgiving or holiday plans, a website created by the Georgia Institute of Technology may help you measure your level of risk of being exposed to someone with COVID-19 at that gathering or event.

Georgia Tech Assistant Professor Clio Andris, who is with the School of City and Regional Planning and the School of Interactive Computing, was part of the team that created the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool,

Andris says the website can help get a better idea of how local transmission rates could affect your level of risk.

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"We're contextualizing this in a way that it fits into your everyday life, and it fits into your decision making," Andris says.  "It's really hard to understand, 'Okay, there are 600 cases in my community right now.  How does that affect my decisions?  What should I do?  Does that mean I stay home? Does that mean I don't meet a friend to go for a walk?'  It's hard to contextualize that.  So, what this does is, it sort of puts you in the driver's seat a little bit for a specific event, to understand the likelihood of that even being a potential spreading event."

The tool assesses your level of risk of exposure to the virus, based on the size of the gathering and the county in which it is being held.

"You can choose an event size, say 10, 15, 20 people," Andris says.  "Then, you click on the county where the event is going to be held.  And that hoover-over, it gives you the percentage likelihood that one or more people at that event will be infected with COVID 19."

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A 25% likelihood of exposure, she says, means there is a 1 in 4 chance someone at your dinner table is infected with COVID-19.

Andris believes the tool can help people make better choices, especially at a time the U.S. is experiencing a record surge in new infections.

"We really need to understand the risks of getting together, especially now that it's colder, we're indoors and we can't go outside as often," Andris says.  "With the holidays coming up and already in play for some communities, we really need to understand that when you have a group of a certain number of people, you're also inviting the virus."