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What’s the risk? USF prof creates calculator for Thanksgiving COVID exposure

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has just increased its guidance against traveling next week on top of previous recommendations to minimize or avoid exposure to COVID-19 by having contact with people outside your immediate family while celebrating Thanksgiving.

Despite that, the appeal of getting together for the holiday is strong and some people are going forward with their events.

So what is your risk of coming in contact with COVID? University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi created a web tool to determine the chance of coming in contact with a COVID-19 case based on a gathering’s size and location.

“You can plop in how many people are going to get together in a meeting,” Salemi told WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach. “It will give you an estimate as to what are your chances of encountering a person who is infected with the virus.”

Salemi’s program was inspired by researchers at Georgia Tech who constructed a similar national application but Salemi uses more granular data from the Florida Department of Health.

“It’s giving you a gauge,” Salemi said. “So, for example, if you type in that you’re getting together with 50 people and it says your chance of encountering someone is over 99%, that’s probably a dangerous setting to get into, even with mitigation efforts.”

For gatherings of 10 people, the tool shows most of the state has a below 15% chance of COVID-19 contact. But Salemi warns Floridians should still take every precaution; socially distance, protect the vulnerable and consider staying home.

The Centers for Disease Control has released recommendations for those planning to attend Thanksgiving gatherings.