As the pandemic drags on and people get antsy about wanting to get out and about, researchers are coming to the rescue with numerous online dashboards that allow us to determine if our activities put us at increased risk for contracting COVID-19.
Georgia Tech’s interactive dashboard allows users to calculate the possibility that someone will be infected with COVID-19 at events of different sizes.
The calculations are in real time and account for widespread gaps in testing attributed to spread among individuals who display mild or no symptoms of illness and, therefore, do not get tested and show up in reports of the number of cases. The researchers estimate that for every positive test, there are another 10 unreported cases out in the community.
“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,” said Joshua Weitz, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences and the creator of the tool.
Reform Austin used the dashboard on Aug. 7 to take a look at the risk of attending a small party of 10 people in various locations in Texas.
If calculating based on the current incidence of cases reported statewide, there is a 3.32% chance that someone will be infected at a dinner party with 10 attendees. However, if you take into account that there are 10 more cases out there for every one case that is reported in the state’s numbers, then the risk level for contracting COVID-19 at a small dinner party jumps to almost 30%.
For example, in Harris County, as of Friday, there was a 37% chance there would be at least one person infected at a gathering of 10. In Dallas County, the risk was 30%. In Austin, it was 24%. And in San Antonio, it was 38%.
Down in Cameron County in the hard-hit Rio Grande Valley, the risk was a whopping 90% if attending a party of 10 people, but over in Shackelford County near the panhandle, you have a less than 1% chance of being infected at a small event.
The calculator allows the user to select different size events ranging from the small party of 10 up to a major sporting event with 100,000 in attendance. You can assess the risk on a statewide or specific county basis.
“Whether it be in the Dallas area or in the Houston area or the Rio Grande Valley area, one type of gathering keeps surfacing as a spreading event for COVID-19, and that is family gatherings or friends gathering together,” said Gov. Greg Abbott Thursday.
Abbott said people may feel there isn’t a danger of transmitted COVID-19 if gathering in small numbers, but that has been disproven by the multiple reports across the state of entire families and groups of friends who contract the disease after having been together.
“Anybody, anywhere has the ability to both spread and to contract COVID-19,” he said.