Planning a Holiday Gathering? This Map Might Convince You Otherwise

COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, created by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Coronavirus cases have continued to surge in the United States, throwing a wrench in holiday plans across the country. 

The Centers for Disease Control is urging folks to stay home and avoid traveling this holiday season, but for those who remain on the fence, this map may help you weigh your options. 

The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, built by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, shows you how much risk you face in gatherings of varying sizes, anywhere in the United States. 

Risk Level in the U.S. in gatherings of 10, 15, 25 and 50 people, as of Nov. 20. From the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool.

The map shows how likely it is for someone in a gathering of a given size to be positive for COVID-19.

In the overall D.C. metro area, the risk levels for a gathering of 10 people ranges from 8% to 15% as of Monday -- meaning there's an 8% to 15% chance that someone at that gathering is positive.

In D.C., there is a 10% chance that in a gathering of 10 people, at least one COVID-positive person will be present. For a gathering of 15 people, the odds increase to 15%. Attending a gathering of 25 people increases the risk to 24%.

Prince George's County has the highest risk in our region, with a 14% risk for a gathering of 10 people. For a gathering of 50 people, there is a 52% chance that at least one person will have COVID-19.

Your Chances of Encountering the Coronavirus at an Event This Thanksgiving

This map, based on a model by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, uses real-time data to show the risk of attending an event given its size and location. The risk level refers to the probability of encountering at least one COVID-19 positive individual, and the model assumes there are at least five times more cases than are being reported.

Source: COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
Amy O’Kruk/NBC

Within D.C., Maryland and Virginia, the risk appears to be lowest in Highland County, Virginia, where gatherings of 10 have a less than 1% associated risk as of Monday. 

Scott County, Virginia (25%), and Garrett (33%) and Allegany (51%) counties in Maryland have much higher associated risks for gatherings of 10. 

While very small gatherings in our region appear to have low associated risks, the map as a whole paints a bleak picture for the majority of the midwest and parts of the south. 

For example, according to the risk tool, Crowley County in Colorado has a 99% risk that someone is infected, even for gatherings as small as 10 people.

The West Coast and parts of the East Coast do appear to have lower risk when it comes to the spread of COVID-19 at small- to mid-sized gatherings. However, local officials such as Mayor Muriel Bowser are still urging residents to celebrate Thanksgiving at home and to wear a mask at the gathering.

Whatever you decide to do for the holidays, local leaders recommend caution, adherence to local guidelines and mask wearing.

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