Here’s the Crowd Size That Will Determine Your Risk of Getting COVID in Lafayette
What's the real risk of you getting COVID in Lafayette right now?
You may think that you're safer around a crowd of people you know, or maybe an area with good ventilation. You may think that the event you're at may be safer because you know a good amount of the people in the room are vaccinated. While all of these things may hold some truth, none of them will stop the percentage of COVID-19-positive individuals that could be present at any given event in Lafayette.
Luckily, we have this nifty COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool with real-time updates for your specific area. The tool is a collaborative effort between professors at Georgia Tech and researchers at Duke, Stanford, and the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory.
The tool is free and supported by the CDC, along with other charities and foundations. The way that it works is that it will give you a risk level (or estimated chance) from 0-100% that "at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event, given its size and location.
Another important factor to consider when using the tool is "ascertainment bias." Based on data and the increase in testing, experts assume there are more positive COVID cases than are being reported—five times more cases to be exact. Depending on testing in your area, the ascertainment bias may be higher. Increased testing in your area would lead to lower ascertainment biases.
With Louisiana's soaring numbers, let's assume our testing is better than average and use the 3:1 ascertainment bias (3x more cases than what's being reported).
If you're going out to dinner with a table of 10 friends or doing some quick shopping in a convenience store, there's a 30% chance at least 1 COVID-positive individual will be present.
If you bump that total to 15 people (think fitness classes or small clothing store) we see a jump to 43%.
Hiked up to 20 people, the percentage chance of a COVID-positive individual surpasses the 50% mark. This is walking into your average coffee shop, or attending an outdoor cookout with family and friends.
Making the jump from 20 to 25 people, allows us to measure two very common places where people are gathering this fall. Classroom settings and small bars carry a 60% risk estimate.
The next jump in numbers starts to put us in dangerous territory. When I slid the tool to 50+ people, you could see the colors shift, beginning to separate Louisiana and other parts of the Southeastern U.S. from the rest of the country. House parties and grocery runs fall into this category, and there is an 84% chance that someone with COVID will be present.
The next number was the number that gave me a threshold I was looking for. What was the crowd size that would it be safe to assume at least ONE person present was infected with COVID-19?
Apparently, that "magic" number is 100 people because it brings the risk to just under 100%.
I didn't want to waste my time after getting the near-100% result on 100 people, but for the sake of entertainment and "what if" I dragged that bar all the way to 1000 people and the entire country lit up as you can see below.
So, there's some information for you to digest or maybe put your mind at ease about an event that you will either attend or cancel over the next few weeks and months. Also, remember that wearing masks, gathering in smaller groups, and distancing are all ways to "reduce the risk of breakthrough infections"—that goes for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals.
Speaking of distancing. The numbers are in from Lollapalooza after insane crowds went viral.
It's my hope that this easy to use tool helps give people the most accurate picture of what's going on in real time and allows them access to information that will keep them and their families safe as we try to get a handle on this most recent surge of COVID.
Check out the website here.