County-Level Calculator Estimates Risk For Coronavirus Exposure

09:42AM Jul 14, 2020
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The event size you can check on ranges from 10 people to 10,000.
( Georgia Tech )

As you consider whether to attend a professional development event out-of-state or even gather with family and friends for a picnic in a nearby county, consulting the new Georgia Tech Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool might help you decide whether to participate.

The interactive dashboard maps the risk that one or more individuals may have COVID-19 attending events of different sizes in counties throughout the U.S., explains Joshua Weitz, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences, who helped pioneer the tool. The event size you can check on in a county ranges from 10 people to 10,000.

For example: As of Tuesday, July 14, for an event with 100 attendees in Hamilton County, Kan., the estimated risk that someone in attendance is actively infected with the Coronavirus is 80%. In Macon County, Ill., on Tuesday, the risk is 21% for a group of 100 attendees.

“The Tool takes the number of cases reported in the past 14 days in each county and multiplies these by an under-testing factor to estimate the number of circulating cases in a particular county,” Weitz says in a news release distributed by Georgia Tech. “The issue of understanding risks associated with gatherings is even more relevant as many kinds of businesses, including sports and universities, are considering how to re-open safely,” he adds.

The dashboard accounts for widespread gaps in U.S. testing for the Coronavirus, which can silently spread through individuals who display mild or no symptoms of illness. “Precisely because of under-testing and the risk of exposure and infection, these risk calculations provide further support for the ongoing need for social distancing and protective measures. Such precautions are still needed even in small events, given the large number of circulating cases,” states the dashboard’s website.

You can access the Georgia Tech Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool here: https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/

Additional contributors to the Tool included the founding director of Georgia Tech’s Ph.D. in quantitative biosciences program, in collaboration with the lab of Clio Andris, an assistant professor in the  School of City and Regional Planning with a joint appointment in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, and with researchers from the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory (a public/private partnership between Georgia Tech, IHRC Inc., and ASRT Inc.).

The dashboard’s technical development was made possible by contributions from Seolha Lee, a master’s student in Andris' group, and Aroon Chande, a Ph.D. candidate in Bioinformatics at Georgia Tech.

The dashboard’s website, which is updated daily, incorporates data from The New York Times case count and Covidtracking.com dashboard (a resource led by journalist Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic). Both of these databases record confirmed case reports.

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