Thanksgiving plans have been made fraught by the coronavirus pandemic, but how worried should you be? One tool aims to give an answer.
The COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, a project led by professors Joshua Weitz and Clio Andris of the Georgia Institute of Technology, aims to show the risk of COVID-19 being present at a gathering given the size and location.
For example, if you are planning to attend a Thanksgiving gathering of 10 people in Passaic County, the chance of someone there having COVID-19 is currently around 18%, the tool calculates. That’s the highest in New Jersey.
On the flip side, you’d be safer in Sussex County, where the chance is around 6%.
If you’re dead set on having the same type of family holiday blowout as usual, with 25 attendees, the probabilities obviously go up. This time, a gathering in Passaic County is about 40% likely to include the coronavirus, while in Cape May it’s 13%.
But you are headed out of state, you say?
Well, a gathering of 10 people in New York City has a 7% likelihood of having someone with the coronavirus, and there’s an 11% chance in the Empire State as a whole. In Philadelphia and Pennsylvania in general, the risk is 17%. Delaware’s is 15% and Connecticut’s is 22%.
If you are looking for least risk, there’s Vermont (4%), or better yet, Hawaii (5%).
Or, maybe just trim your sails this year, given the outbreak and travel advisories that could have you quarantining for 14 days after you return to New Jersey. Gov. Phil Murphy has encouraged residents to scale back Thanksgiving plans by staying at home and having smaller dinners with immediate household family members only.
One way to mitigate things would be to enjoy the holiday meal outside, though whether the weather will allow for that is anyone’s guess. Another way would be to have all attendees quarantine for 14 days in advance, in which case, hopefully you’ve been spending the last couple days indoors.
Bear in mind, with cases currently surging in New Jersey and across the United States, risk calculations could go up over the next couple weeks as the holiday approaches. On six of the last eight days, N.J. has announced more than 3,000 new cases, including 4,395 new cases on Saturday, a record number.
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Nick Devlin is a reporter on the data & investigations team. He can be reached at [email protected].
Staff reporter Riley Yates contributed to this report.