What is your risk of contracting COVID from vacation gatherings?

(NEXSTAR) – As many Americans prepare to reunite with friends and family for the holidays, cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. the Centers for Disaster Control and Prevention reports that cases and hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks, largely due to the omicron variant, which is now over 70% of new cases in the United States.

With the growing number of COVIDs, you may be wondering: How safe is your holiday gathering?

the CDC Reports all but two states – Montana and South Carolina – have high levels of community transmission of COVID-19. Dr Dan Shirley, infectious disease physician at UW Health, told Nexstar WFRV that even though people are supposed to get together for the holidays, there are certain precautions that need to be taken. This includes avoiding large gatherings (and wearing a mask if you can’t avoid them) and asking yourself questions before you get together with family and friends.

“Is this a group of people that I know something about their immune and vaccine status?” Is this a situation where people can space out? Is the air flow good?

the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool by the Georgia Institute of Technology can also give you an overview of the risks of getting together with groups this holiday season. The interactive map assesses the risk that one or more people with COVID are present in an event of different sizes, which can be adjusted with a slider. Using COVID, population, and immunization data, the map displays COVID risk by county.

For gatherings of 15 people, the Midwestern and New England states have the highest chance (25-50%) that at least one person has COVID-19. Some counties, such as Tompkins, New York, and Pike, Illinois, have risk levels greater than 65%. Below is the continental United States risk assessment map for gatherings of 15 people through Tuesday, December 21.

Screenshot of the COVID-19 event risk assessment planning tool on December 21, 2021 (Georgia Institute of Technology)

For gatherings of 20 people, risk levels increase not only in the Midwest and New England, but also in western states like Arizona and New Mexico. Four counties – Tompkins; Pike; From Baca, New Mexico; and Kent, Texas – have risk levels greater than 75%.

Screenshot of the COVID-19 event risk assessment planning tool on December 21, 2021 (Georgia Institute of Technology)

If you attend a rally of 50 people, the chances of at least one person with COVID-19 increase dramatically in many countries. On the interactive map, many counties turn red, which means the risk level is 75% or more. With rallies of 100, some states turned completely red. Even with events of just 10 people, the smallest group size measured by the tool, every state has at least one county with a risk level between 1% and 25%.

In a Monday update, the CDC reported the United States has seen more than 929,000 new cases of COVID-19 reported. It comes just days after the country surpassed 50 million total cases and 800,000 COVID-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

Sara H. Byrd