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Know Your Coronavirus Exposure Risk In Centre County

Being a Penn State student in 2020 is all about taking calculated risks.

“Should I come back to campus?” “Is it safe to go to the Creamery?” “Can I hang out with my friends?”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these are all questions we’ve asked ourselves this semester. Luckily, there’s now a way to calculate these risks and make informed decisions about socializing in Happy Valley.

A research team at Georgia Tech recently published a new tool to help assess the risk of going to events across the country. The peer-reviewed mechanism uses real-time data from the Covid Tracking Project and New York Times to show the risk of going to different-sized events around the country.

The tool takes the active case numbers in each county and applies an ascertainment bias, which assumes there are five-to-10 times as many cases in a specific area than actually reported. Since Centre County has solid testing numbers thanks to Penn State, we’ll use the lower bias of five.

We went ahead and broke down your risk of attending different events in State College based on this device.

These percentages aren’t the risk of you contracting the coronavirus, but rather the chance someone at a gathering you attend will actively have the virus. If you wear a mask and social distance, the risk is much lower.

  • Small, legal gathering (10 people): 18%
  • Larger gathering (25 people): 39%
  • Bar or restaurant (50 people): 62%
  • Large, unregulated party (100 people): 86%
  • Chaos (500+ people): >99%

This data reflects testing updates just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 18. The site also provides live updates for state-wide numbers. The lower horizontal line represents the risk at current active case numbers, while the two higher lines represent the ascertainment biases of five and 10, respectively.

Most in-state Penn State students will be heading home to lower risk numbers. Those from Pittsburgh can enjoy a 10 percentage point drop at 25-person events. Those “just outside of Philly” will experience similar lower risks.

At 25-person events in Bucks County, you have a 39% chance of coming into contact with a virus-positive individual. There is also a 30% chance in Montgomery County, 35% chance in DelCo, and 44% chance in Philadelphia County. This compares to a 39% chance in Centre County.

This data can be used to make informed decisions about the coronavirus in Happy Valley. Remember, State College prevents gathering in groups larger than 10 indoors and larger than 25 outdoors.

To date, Penn State has reported nearly 4,500 student coronavirus cases at University Park this fall. Pennsylvania has reported more than 287,000 cases since the pandemic began and is currently experiencing a big spike in positives, according to the New York Times.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a junior business major from Bucks County and is Onward State's social media manager. He writes about a lot of things. He's a huge Philly sports fan, back to back to back failed entrepreneur, and he appeared on the Rachel Ray Show at the age of 5. If you want to gain absolutely nothing, you can follow him on twitter @rjparsons9. Any "serious" inquiries or death threats can be sent to [email protected]


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