Tool calculates COVID-19 risk at gatherings


NBC NEWS — Thanksgiving is one week away. But before you dig into the turkey, there’s another important decision to make, is it safe to visit friends and family this year?

People are traveling during the pandemic. At SFO Najlaa, Sarih and her husband are flying home to Chicago thinking about seeing family for Thanksgiving.

“I’ve heard a lot of stories from back home that people that my family knows got COVID just from gathering,” said Sarih.

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, developed by a team at Georgia Tech, can tell Sarih how likely it is that one person at a gathering has COVID19. Just enter the group size and click on the county.

For Sarih, dinner for 10 in Cook County Illinois. It comes with a 39-percent risk, a number that has her thinking.

“For sure wear a mask if I choose to go- but I would definitely, I could have second guesses on whether to go or not,” Sarih said.

The risk assessment equation includes COVID case rates and population data. Developers say they wanted to give people a way to make informed decisions.

“We can say in this event will  COVID be there or not and in many places in the country right now there is a greater than 50 percent chance. There is a likelihood, high likelihood greater than chance that COVID will be at the event,” said Dr. Chlio Andris, an assistant professor at Georgia Institute of Technology.

“I think that is something that we would absolutely use, yeah,” said Dr. Eli Gelfand, a traveler.

Flying home to Boston, Dr. Gelfand says it’s a tool families can use to make decisions about the holidays.

“This is a useful tool for people to decide if they want to see family or not safely for the holidays, to judge the risk not just for themselves but for relatives as well.”

The COVID-19 risk assessment tool is available through Georgia Tech’s website.

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