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Thinking of traveling for Thanksgiving? Use this tool to check your risk of catching coronavirus first

Georgia Tech's COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool calculates the risk of catching the virus at events in every county in the U.S.

WASHINGTON — Thinking about attending a Thanksgiving dinner this year? In parts of the D.C. metro, that could be almost like flipping a coin to see if you get the coronavirus, according to a tool built by Georgia Tech.

The university compiles data from the COVID Tracking Project and the New York Times COVID-19 data project to generate risk estimates for every county in the United States. You can use their tool – the Georgia Tech COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool – to get an idea of how likely you might be to catch to coronavirus if you attended an event of different sizes in any county in the country.

According to the tool, if you’re thinking about attending an event with 15 people, your chance of contracting the coronavirus in D.C. would be about 20%. If you’re planning on visiting relatives in Baltimore for Thanksgiving, that same 15-person event would carry a 34% chance of contracting the virus. And, in Alleghany County, Maryland, your risk could be as high as 60%.

Some parts of the country, like Iowa, Kansas and the Dakotas, carry risks as high as 99% -- you’d be almost guaranteed to get the virus if you attended an event with just 15 people.

If you do plan on traveling outside of the D.C. metro for Thanksgiving, be aware that D.C. instituted new travel restrictions this week that encompass most of the country. Maryland is urging residents not to travel during the holidays.

In D.C., the city recommends that you get a coronavirus test within 72 hours of traveling – and to cancel your plans if you receive a positive result. If you’re traveling anywhere other than Maryland, Virginia or a state the city considers low-risk, you’ll need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon your return or until you receive a negative coronavirus test result.

Credit: Maryland Department of Health
Maryland November 10, 2020 State Travel Advisory

On Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a new travel advisory warning against traveling to any state with a positivity rate above 10%, or any state with average case rates above 20 per 100,000 people. Anyone traveling from those states is asked to get tested and self-quarantine while awaiting results.

Virginia does not currently impose any travel restrictions on those coming in or out of the commonwealth, but Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday did reduce the cap on public and private gatherings from 250 to 25 people.