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Interactive COVID risk map gauges likelihood of exposure based on location and event size

This real-time, COVID-19 risk assessment tool, created by researchers at Georgia Tech University, can take some of the guesswork out of your holiday planning.

With the holiday season upon us, many people are trying to make tough decisions about whether it’s safe to gather with family and friends. Fortunately, there’s a tool for that. This map that helps analyze and predict the risk of being exposed to the virus in real time might take some of the guesswork out of holiday planning.

Researchers at Georgia Tech University created the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Tool, an interactive map that can tell you the likelihood of COVID-19 exposure based on location and the size of a planned event. The map uses data from the COVID Tracking Project, the New York Times and the U.S. Census to determine how likely it is that at least one COVID-positive person will be in attendance at an event of a given size.

To use the COVID risk assessment tool, you simply input the number of people you’re expecting to have at your gathering, and then, scroll over the map to find your county. For example, if you’re planning on having a 10-person Thanksgiving dinner party in Los Angeles County, the map shows the risk of someone at your gathering having COVID-19 is about 5%.

Image via Georgia Tech University

Meanwhile, if you held the same gathering in Mesa, Colorado, the risk would jump to 27%.

Image via Georgia Tech University

The tool can be used to assess risk for gatherings of up to 5,000 people, and it includes data from every county in the U.S. In a report published by the journal Nature Human Behavior, the makers of the tool explain that the COVID risk map can’t predict whether or not an individual will contract COVID-19 from attending an event. Rather, it’s designed to help people better interpret local case data and make safer decisions.

“This map is designed as a spatial decision support system that allows individuals to measure the risk of their own actions and plan accordingly,” the report says. “It removes the burden of interpreting what case rates mean in a quantitative context by directly communicating a probability of encountering an infected individual via interactions. As a result, individuals can visualize themselves in a group and decide whether this risk is worth taking.”

The U.S. is still averaging more than 74,800 new COVID cases per day, according to the New York Times. States like Alaska and Montana have been hit hard by the virus, but infection rates are also climbing in New Mexico, Colorado and many other places. At the same time, the recent approval of vaccines for children ages 5-11 has led to a surge in new vaccinations. As of November 10, NPR reports nearly one million kids will have already gotten their first dose of the vaccine.