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What is the risk of getting COVID-19 during Thanksgiving gatherings in Missouri?

Katie Kull
Gannett
Lake Sun Leader

With the holidays around the corner and the coronavirus spreading uncontrolled in communities across the country, public health officials are recommending people celebrate the holidays this year at home with immediate family.

But if you’re part of the roughly 40 percent of people identified in a survey from The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center still planning on attending a Thanksgiving gathering of 10 or more people, a new online tool from the Georgia Institute of Technology is available to help calculate the risk.

The peer-reviewed data breaks out the percentage chance that at least one COVID-19 positive individual would be present at an event based on the size of the gathering and the estimated prevalence of the virus in the community.

In Greene County, the tool says there is a 27 percent chance at least one person at a gathering of 10 people would have COVID-19.

If that gathering increases in size to 25 people, the probability increases to 55 percent.

Those numbers are roughly the same for surrounding areas like Polk, Webster, Christian, Cedar and Taney Counties.

But some surrounding areas carry a higher risk of transmission.

Across Missouri, the riskiest places to attend a gathering of 10 people are:

  1. Dade County, 64 percent chance at least one person has the virus

  2. Reynolds County, 58 percent

  3. Perry County, 56 percent

  4. Cole County, 53 percent

  5. Moniteau County, 53 percent

  6. Ste. Genevieve County, 51 percent

  7. Henry County, 51 percent

  8. Pettis County, 51 percent

  9. Gentry County, 51 percent

  10. Nodaway County, 50 percent

The places with the least estimated risk are:

  1. Platte County, 10 percent

  2. Ozark County, 12 percent

  3. Wright County, 13 percent

  4. Clay County, 14 percent

  5. Douglas County, 14 percent

  6. Howell County, 14 percent

  7. Shannon County, 15 percent

  8. Pulaski County, 16 percent

  9. Jackson County, 17 percent

  10. Gasconade County, 19 percent.

Regardless of the probable risk, there's no question that the safest way to celebrate the holidays is with immediate family, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Thanksgiving Guidance.

But if you are still planning on gathering in a group, the Springfield-Greene County Health Department recommends eating outside or with open windows, practicing physical distancing and wearing a mask when not eating or drinking.

If you decide to travel, the CDC recommends people get a flu shot, wear a mask if using public transit or stopping along the way and practice other safety guidance like physical distancing and washing your hands.

A complete list of best practices for celebrating the holiday can be found under the "celebrate safely" tab at health.springfieldmo.gov/coronavirus.