Tool can gauge danger of contact
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 corona-virus-infected person at a friend’s white elephant party for instance, visit the website covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu, 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 Hennepin).
The tool will tell you that if the gathering were held today, there is a 33% chance someone will bring the virus along with a pair of novelty socks.
What it can’t tell you, however, is whether a 33% 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 the tool. “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.”
The map is updated daily with the latest information on how many cases have been tallied in every county across America.
The tool also assumes that the actual number of corona-virus cases is up to 10 times higher than what’s in the official reports, because not all cases will be caught by tests.
The COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool went live in July, and the creators reported that 2 million people had visited the site by September.
In addition to individual users, the research team was contacted by the Georgia Municipal Association, which represents all the mayors in the state, as well as organizations like the Special Olympics that were using it to assess the risk of holding events.
As we move into the holiday season, Andris said she hoped more people would use the COVID-19 Risk Assessment Tool to help them make decisions about how many local friends and family to invite to their celebrations .
“I can see a lot of people saying, ‘It’s been a hard year, and we really need to be with friends and family,’ ” she said. “I get that, and I hear that, but it’s going to have consequences.”