New COVID-19 Tool Visualizes Infection Risk Nationwide

Georgia Tech’s COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool showing the likelihood someone in a gathering of 50 people would have COVID-19.

If you’re planning on seeing family for the holidays or want to dine in-person at a restaurant in Douglas County, you’re likelihood of being exposed to COVID-19 is high.

If your Thanksgiving gathering has just 15 people, there’s more than a 50% chance someone there is going to have COVID-19 if its in Douglas County. If you’re in a place with more than 25 people, it jumps to 75%. At 50 people, it’s 94%.

Those estimates come from a new real-time COVID-19 risk calculator from Georgia Institute of Technology. The COVID-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool, which shows your likelihood of being exposed to the virus depending on the size of your gathering, tabulates risks using reported case current circulating cases as well as the assumption that there are 10 cases in the community for every reported case. That assumption could be lower in places with adequate testing. Nebraska had a positivity rate of 17.35% just last week, more than three times what the World Health Organization would consider “too high” to allow regular activity.

The peer-reviewed tool shows the risk for every county in the United States, but risk levels are particularly high right now in the plains and upper Midwest. In Nebraska, cases have doubled in the past two weeks and are 4.7 times larger than the state’s peak in early May. Douglas County’s cases have also more than doubled in last two weeks and are 3.5 times higher than the county’s previous peak in early June.

Statewide, hospital’s are 75% occupied. In Douglas County, hospitals are 84% occupied. Dr. James Lawler of Nebraska Medicine and the University of Nebraska Medical Center said one of the state’s largest hospital networks is facing a dangerous reality.

“In three weeks’ time, our hospitals will be overwhelmed and we will no longer be able to deliver optimal and effective care for COVID, and we will also no longer be able to deliver appropriate care for everyone who comes in with a heart attack or a stroke,” Lawler said earlier this week.

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