New Tool Shows Risk of Encountering Someone With COVID-19

Scientists say that one of the most dangerous things about coronavirus is that it can spread from people who have no symptoms, that's why they believe it's important to analyze data to help guide decision making

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Using data from public health departments across the country, Joshua Weitz, a professor of biological sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has created a tool that maps out your risk of encountering a person with COVID-19 based on the size of the group and where it is.

For example, there's an 84% chance a person in a crowd of 100 in San Diego County has coronavirus.

"We're trying to communicate real-time risks so that people understand there are areas of the country where the risk is high and reinforces that need to wear masks and makes them think twice about whether that indoor gathering is essential," Weitz said.

In comparison, the chance a person in a crowd of 100 has COVID-19 in Los Angeles County is 97%. On the East Coast in Suffolk County, Boston, the odds are 65%.

When NBC 7 asked Weitz what people should take away from this information, he said he wants people to ask questions.

"I would say ask questions. Why is it that our county is worse than in another? Are we doing something different? And I think asking more political leaders the question, yes people want to restart the economy and get things open, but give community members the protections they deserve and need to keep themselves safe," Weitz said.

Not surprisingly, the odds of someone having COVID-19 goes up the bigger the group gets no matter where you are in the country.

The current risk level of having COVID-19 in a 25 person gathering is 36% in San Diego County. It goes up to 60% for a 50-person gathering. By the time you're at a 500 person gathering here in San Diego, there's practically no chance someone there doesn't have the coronavirus.

Weitz is hoping that crunching these numbers might help local leaders to be able to figure out when and how to open places up again.

To view the Event Risk Assessment Planning tool, click here.

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