An ongoing surge in cases of COVID-19 across the United States, including in Minnesota and Wisconsin, has led to increased restrictions and new policies from government figures to try to slow the spread of the virus.

One such example of these new restrictions came from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz last week, calling for new limitations for bars, restaurants, and events, as well as private social gatherings. The timing of the new restrictions came as families prepare their plans for holiday gatherings. While businesses have been subject to regulations through the pandemic, private social gatherings are of particular focus during this late fall surge ahead of the holidays.

In the case of Minnesota, the guidelines issued by health officials and Governor Walz are to limit private gatherings to no more than 10 people from no more than 3 households, all while maintaining social distancing and wearing masks.

This focus on awareness about potential spread at small private gatherings is becoming a nationwide point of discussion with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner. In an effort to illustrate the potential risk of gatherings of various sizes, a team from Georgia Tech has created an interactive map that shows county-by-county risk levels for various group sizes for the potential of coming into contact with someone that has COVID-19 based on the latest data.

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This tool, the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool, gives users the ability to look on a granular level of the risk of contact with someone COVID-19-positive in every county across the United States based on group sizes from as small as 10 people up to large groups.

At the time of publishing for this article on November 17, the average risk according to the data map is somewhere between 1-in-3 and 1-in-2 odds across most Northland counties for gatherings of 10 people. As you would probably guess, as you increase the number of people at a gathering, even by a few people, the odds go up.

Gathering of 10 PeopleGathering of 15 PeopleGathering of 25 PeopleGathering of 50 People
Aitkin Co. - MN48%62%80%96%
Carlton Co. - MN44%58%77%95%
Cook Co. - MN12%17%27%46%
Itasca Co. - MN34%47%65%88%
Koochiching Co. - MN22%31%46%71%
Lake Co. - MN28%38%56%80%
Pine Co. - MN33%45%63%86%
St. Louis Co. - MN33%46%64%87%
Ashland Co. - WI40%53%72%92%
Bayfield Co. - WI45%59%78%95%
Burnett Co. - WI41%54%73%93%
Douglas Co. - WI34%47%65%88%
Iron Co. - WI44%58%76%94%
Sawyer Co. - WI41%55%73%93%
Washburn Co. - WI38%51%70%91%

Here is the latest nationwide map. You can also explore the map and further information on the COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool website.

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