America's Covid hotspots revealed as interactive map shows worst-hit areas amid Thanksgiving spike fears
SCIENTISTS have created a real-time map that shows the risk of contracting Covid-19 anywhere in the US as fears of a Thanksgiving spike in cases grow.
The Georgia Institute of Technology's new Covid-19 Risk Assessment Planning Tool can predict how every American could encounter at least one person with the coronavirus in every county.
The new tech can also show the likelihood of contracting the virus at a variety of events, ranging from 10 people to 5,000 people
This new map will assess the risk of one individual with Covid-19 being at a 10-person dinner party, a Thanksgiving gathering with 25 guests, a 100-person wedding or a concert with 1,000 attendees.
It assumes the true number of COVID-19 infections is five or 10 times higher than official totals.
The map is updated everyday when counties update their daily cases and death counts so users can examine their risk in real-time before planning a potential Thanksgiving getaway or a trip to visit family members duringn the national holiday.
Writing in science journal Nature, the team said: "Large events and gatherings, particularly those taking place indoors, have been linked to multi-transmission events that have accelerated the pandemic spread of [coronavirus].
"To provide real-time, geolocalized risk information, we developed an interactive online dashboard that estimates the risk that at least one individual with SARS-CoV-2 is present in gatherings of different sizes in the United States."
Dr Joshua Weitz, a quantitative biologist at Georgia Tech, was the brains behind the initial idea to create the risk assesment map.
He told the Los Angeles Times he wanted to develop a tool that could quantify the risk of going to various events of different sizes in different regions, in order to help the public make informed choices and for officials to be able issue orders such as mandatory mask wearing and occupancy limits at events and private gatherings.
The first version was a graph that looked at the number of infections per capita in any county and assessed risk by correlating that figure with the size of any prospective event.
But the user friendly version of the tool – which developed into a real-time map – is updated to reflect daily infection and death totals in every US county.
The final version of the tool went live in July and has so far seen two million people use it.
For example, as of Friday, if you were to attending a 10-person dinner party Los Angeles County, you would have a nine percent risk of interacting with a coronavirus-infected person
A Thanksgiving gathering with 25 guests in Dallas, Texas, has a 38 per cent risk – while attending a church service with 50 people in Cook COunty, Illinois would mean an indivudual has an 85 perecent rick of catching Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the interactive planning tool shows that attending a 100-person wedding in New York City would result in a 48 percent risk of contracting the killer virus.
Dr Clio Andris, a professor of city and regional planning and interactive computing at Georgia Tech, who helped build the tool, told the newspaper: "In a way, it's like a weather map.
"It can tell you what the risk is that it will rain, but it can't tell you if you'll get wet. That depends on if you carry an umbrella, or if you choose not to go outside at all.
The map follows news that Covid fatalities in the US have reached nearly 250,000 – the highest death toll from the virus anywhere in the world.
The number of positive cases recorded across the nation has reached 11,000,000 – again, the highest number for any nation in the world.
Meanwhile, the news follows the Mayor of Chicago ordering residents to scrap Thanksgiving plans and stay at home amid a surge in coronavirus cases.
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