How risky are gatherings in Livingston County? Interactive tool helps predict risk of COVID-19 exposure

The interactive dashboard that estimates Covid-19 incidence at gatherings in the U.S. has added a new feature: the ability to calculate county-level risk of attending an event with someone actively infected with Coronavirus (Covid-19). Previously, the dashboard estimated exposure for different size events by state.

This dashboard predicted the president’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., would become a superspreader event.

From an overview of the country as plotted by the dashboard, Michigan is looking pretty good in comparison to the current COVID-19 hot spots in the south.

The new “Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool” is the work of Joshua Weitz, professor in the School of Biological Sciences and founding director of Georgia Tech’s Ph.D. in Quantitative Biosciences program, in collaboration with the lab of Clio Andris, an assistant professor in the School of City and Regional Planning with a joint appointment in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech, and with researchers from the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory (a public/private partnership between Georgia Tech, IHRC Inc., and ASRT Inc.).

“We have developed an interactive county-level map of the risk that one or more individuals may have Covid-19 in events of different sizes,” Weitz says. “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.”

The dashboard accounts for widespread gaps in U.S. testing for the Coronavirus, which can silently spread through individuals who display mild or no symptoms of illness.

“Precisely because of under-testing and the risk of exposure and infection, these risk calculations provide further support for the ongoing need for social distancing and protective measures,” according to the dashboard’s website. “Such precautions are still needed even in small events, given the large number of circulating cases.”

For example: As of Thursday, July 16, for an event with 100 attendees in Livingston County, Mich.,  the estimated risk of someone in attendance being actively infected with Coronavirus is 22 percent. For that same day, at an event with 1,000 attendees (like a small concert), the estimated risk in Michigan is 51.55 percent.

The dashboard’s website, which is updated daily, incorporates data from The New York Times case count and Covidtracking.com dashboard (a resource led by journalist Alexis Madrigal of The Atlantic). Both of these databases record confirmed case reports from state-level departments of public health.

“The Covid-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool takes the number of cases reported in the past 14 days in each county, and multiplies these by an under-testing factor to estimate the number of circulating cases in a particular county,” Weitz said.

Ilate June, Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stated on a press call that “now that serology tests are available, which test for antibodies, the estimates we have right now show about 10 times more people have antibodies in the jurisdictions tested than had documented infections.”)

Tracking tools developed earlier this year by Weitz and colleagues at Georgia Tech and other institutions are also factored into the team’s new county-level calculator. “The model is simple, intentionally so, and provided context for the rationale to halt large gatherings in early-mid March and newly relevant context for considering when and how to re-open,” states the dashboard website.

To check out the dashboard, click here.

 

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