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How much attention should we pay attention to COVID-19 models?

Fargo KVLY-TV logo Fargo KVLY-TV 7/15/2020
a close up of a map: Georgia Tech Risk Assessor © Provided by Fargo KVLY-TV Georgia Tech Risk Assessor

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A new COVID-19 model is allowing people to calculate their risk of catching the virus when attending various-sized events in their county.

Georgia Tech’s interactive map allows users to choose a county anywhere in the united states, choose the event size, and then calculate the risk that at least one COVID-19 positive person will be present.

The model shows a 100-person event in Cass County gives an 76 percent chance that someone in attendance will be COVID-positive, in Grand Forks, 67 percent.

However, local experts say to take graphs like these with a grain of salt as there are a lot of factors that go into getting and passing on the virus.

“If you have a crowd of 100 outside, the risk is definitely lower. It also depends on how many are wearing a mask and how many are not wearing a mask, and how many are actually coughing,” Dr. Avish Nagpal, an Infectious Disease Specialist at Sanford Health said.

Dr. Nagpal says COVID-19 models and charts are helpful for health departments and healthcare systems, as they help track trends and plan for the future when it comes to supplies and hospital bed needs.

“Not that they’re not important, but it doesn’t change what we recommend on a day-by-day basis or how we plan going forward,” Dr. Nagpal said.

At the end of the day, Nagpal says you ‘either have a risk, or you don’t;' as it’s up to you to decide to do things that either increase or decrease your risk of contracting the virus.

Georgia Tech’s interactive map is based on data from The COVID Tracking Project at The Atlantic, which pulls daily data on COVID-19 testing and patients from all 50 states. It’s also based on 2019 U.S. Census data.

The risk assessment tool was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech’s Institute of Technology, Biological Sciences (GT-BIOS) and the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory.

Copyright 2020 KVLY. All rights reserved.

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