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COVID-19 Exposure Risk Higher At Large Gatherings In Panhandle

a close-up of what coronavirus looks like under a microscope
This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.

As statewide coronavirus cases rise, residents wanting to assess the risk of holiday get-togethers can get help through a live county-by-county map from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The data doesn’t show users the likelihood of actually catching the virus - that largely depends on whether people wear a mask and practice social distancing. Public health experts say following those guidelines reduces the spread of COVID-19.

Instead, the interactive map allows users to adjust the size of an event to see the likelihood of at least one attendee carrying the virus.

Walton County is the riskiest place in the state to invite a lot of people to Thanksgiving.

The odds of someone having the virus at a 10-15 person dinner there is roughly 30-40%. At larger gatherings - those with 25-30 people present - the risk level jumps to nearly 60%.

Jackson County is the second riskiest in the state for indoor gatherings.

And Bay, Gulf, Calhoun, Washington, Holmes, Okaloosa, Escambia, Leon and Wakulla Counties all have higher risk levels than most other counties in the state.

In South Florida, Broward, Monroe and Miami-Dade Counties also have elevated risk levels.

Valerie Crowder hosts and produces state and local newscasts during All Things Considered. Her reporting on local government and politics has received state and regional award recognition. She has also contributed stories to NPR newscasts.