Interactive COVID Risk Map Shows How Likely You Are to Catch It, Great Fun For the Whole Fam Damily (Like Clue Except the Weapons Are Coughs and Grandma’s Old Tissues)

If you want to completely avoid risking contracting or spreading coronavirus, the best way to do so is to stay home. But we get it – it’s the holidays, you’ve been in quarantine for nine months now, and you probably miss your friends and family (or you’re sick of your roommates and significant other and want to get out of Dodge). Travel starts to seem like a necessary evil.

If you do dare risk it (and it is indeed a risk), how you decide where to go? What precautions will you need to take? Where is the virus raging right now? A new interactive map aims to answer those questions. It was developed by researchers at Georgia Tech, and it allows you to hover over any county in the United States and see what the current COVID-19 risk level is based on group size.

“The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event in a county, given the size of the event,” reads the information alongside the map. “You can reduce the risk that one case becomes many by wearing a mask, distancing, and gathering outdoors in smaller groups.”

It’s kind of fun to play around with the map – until you remember that this is real life and people are dying. Then it becomes terrifying. Some areas, like counties in the Dakotas, have risk levels as high as 99 percent for groups of 50 people (which you would easily hit in, say, an airport).

If those numbers sound high, it’s in part because the creators of the map are erring on the side of caution. “By default we assume there are five times more cases than are being reported,” the site states. That’s what’s called “ascertainment bias.” If you really want to freak yourself out, you can bump the ascertainment bias number on the map up to 10 and watch almost the whole country turn dark red.

The takeaway? Stay home if you can. No matter how bad your cabin fever, it’s still too dangerous to be gathering in large groups or traveling to hot spots. Better another lonely night with Netflix than weeks of agony in the ICU.

Cover Photo: Georgia Institute of Technology

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