What’s the probability of inviting a COVID-positive person to your Thanksgiving dinner? Look at this map. 

  • Visit the map at https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/ Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 11/22/2020 7:26:59 PM
Modified: 11/22/2020 7:26:42 PM

For weeks, health officials have been warning Granite Staters not to travel for the holidays. The risk of contracting COVID from the holidays has still remained abstract, though.

An interactive map, created by two researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology, attempts to answer a deceptively complex question in tangible terms: what is the likelihood one of your holiday guests will have COVID-19?

The map uses daily county COVID-19 data compiled by the New York Times along with an estimate of the unidentified asymptomatic spreaders to spit out the probability that one person at your gathering will have the virus.

At a 10-person gathering in Merrimack County, there is a 12% chance one person will show up infected. As you increase the number of people at the hypothetical gathering, you can watch the color of the county turn from a pale orange to a blood red.

In other parts of the state, the risk is much higher – the probability of a COVID positive guest at a 15-person event in Coos County is more than 1 in 3.

Travel outside of New Hampshire for Thanksgiving and the risk gets even higher. In some parts of the Midwest, the risk of one person attending a gathering with COVID is nearly 90%, even for a 10-person event.

COVID-19, which spreads through tiny droplets expelled while someone is talking, singing, sneezing, and coughing, is highly effective at spreading between hosts. One person can quickly transmit the virus to several people at a family gathering, especially if the event is inside and in close quarters. State health officials have said that small gatherings are partly responsible for the second wave of the virus in New Hampshire.

The majority of Americans who celebrate Thanksgiving with family members invite 10 or more people to their meal on a normal year. More than a quarter of Americans who celebrate with family expect more than 20 relatives at their gatherings, according to 2010 data from the Pew Research Center. With attendance like that, households in some parts of the state run a 50% chance of inviting COVID into their homes.

While state and national health officials have urged Americans not to travel for Thanksgiving as COVID-19 deaths exceed 200,000, they are still anticipating a spike. After Canada’s Thanksgiving holiday, the country saw a steep increase in new cases. At a press conference on Thursday, Gov. Chris Sununu asked Granite Staters to stay put and gather with their immediate families.

“We know how to control the spread of COVID,” said Ben Chan, the state epidemiologist. “Unfortunately, the difficult part of this is this continues to be a collective effort. Public health is unable to control the spread of this virus on our own.”

If families do choose to gather for the holidays, the Centers for Disease Control recommends gathering outside, wearing masks, and staying six feet apart from those not in your household. Those returning from an out-of-state Thanksgiving celebration are required to quarantine for 14 days or quarantine for 7 days and test negative for COVID-19.




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