Friday, July 17, 2020

New Tool Gauges COVID Risk in Groups

Posted By on Fri, Jul 17, 2020 at 12:36 PM

click to enlarge Beautiful Box Butte County! - NEBRASKA TOURISM COMMISSION
  • Nebraska Tourism Commission
  • Beautiful Box Butte County!

Need to get away? Visit lovely Box Butte County, Nebraska!

“Located at the gateway to the Sandhills of Nebraska, Box Butte County offers a unique blend of history, progressive industry, agriculture and people devoted to the betterment of their community,” according to the Nebraska tourism website.

Stroll around downtown Alliance and you can find a good meal at Ken and Dale’s Restaurant (don’t miss the chorizo hash skillet for breakfast). Walk on down and have a Just A Lite Beer at Brewery 719.

Box Butte County is home to about 11,308 souls and that’s key to its appeal this summer. According to a risk tracker from Georgia Tech, there’s little chance of catching COVID-19 there. 
COVID-19 EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT PLANNING TOOL
  • COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

The school’s COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, gives county-level data on the chance you may have to encounter someone infected with the coronavirus when you visit anywhere in the United States. You can also drill down to the crowd size you expect at your event or outing.

“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 reopen safely,” says Joshua Weitz, professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences and co-creator of the risk tool.

For example, you want to have dinner and drinks on a patio somewhere in Shelby County. You go to the site, plug in the number of active cases in your area (for Shelby County that’s 5,036 on Friday), limit results to Tennessee, and estimate there’s going to be 15 people on the patio. Hit “what’s the risk” and the site spits out an estimated 1.1 percent risk that someone on that patio is infected with the coronavirus.

click to enlarge COVID-19 EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT PLANNING TOOL
  • COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

Let’s say you want to go to a grocery store with a capacity of 75. There’s a 5.4 percent chance someone there has the virus, according to the site. 

Ramp it up to 1,000. That’s how many people AutoZone Park just announced can attend soccer games there. In that crowd, there’s a 52.2 percent chance someone has the virus.

click to enlarge COVID-19 EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT PLANNING TOOL
  • COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

The Cooper-Young Festival usually attracts about 100,000 people each year. Festival organizers canceled it this year on concerns of spreading the virus. If that many people gathered in Shelby County today, the website says there’s a greater than 99 percent chance that one of them would be infected.

click to enlarge COVID-19 EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT PLANNING TOOL
  • COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

You can also gauge the presence of virus for group sizes on a county-level map. Going to mingle in a group of 10 in Shelby County? The tool says there’s about a 39 percent chance someone in that group has the virus. How about a group of 25? There’s a 71 percent chance. 50 people? 92 percent. 100? Yep. 99 percent.

click to enlarge COVID-19 EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT PLANNING TOOL
  • COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

There are few places in Tennessee you can go and not find someone with the virus in a group of 100 people. For that, most of Tennessee is bright red on the tool’s risk-assessment heat map.

click to enlarge COVID-19 EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT PLANNING TOOL
  • COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool

What happens if we pull back and look at the South?

click to enlarge COVID-19 EVENT RISK ASSESSMENT PLANNING TOOL
  • COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
The map would make sense if the red indicated temperature. But, sadly, it does not.

Meanwhile, back in Box Butte County (named for a butte that looked like a box), there’s a less than 1 percent chance anyone in a group of 100 will have the virus. Dial that up to 10,000 people and you still probably won’t find anyone with the virus. Same goes for neighboring Dawes and Sioux Counties.

In all, northwest Nebraska is looking pretty good right about now. I’ll have the chorizo hash skillet and a Just A Lite Beer, please.

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