Data points to Macon MAGA rally as potential COVID-19 superspreader

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)– A Georgia professor warns big events, including President Trump’s rally in Macon Friday, could put people at risk for COVID-19.

The pandemic has introduced new language into everyday life, including the word “superspread”.
According to Michael Hokanson, a Department of Public Health representative, superspreading events classify as anything from weddings to sporting events. He says scientists consider several factors before events receive the “superspreading” label.
“Whether it’s indoors… or outdoors, that makes a difference to how the virus spreads,” Hokanson stated. “Of course, the type of event can contribute to the superspreading status as well.”
Events like football games or the MAGA rally in Macon, could count as superspreading events.

Professor of Biological Sciences at Georgia Tech, Joshua Weitz, helped create a COVID-19 event risk assessment tracker. The tracker allows people to assess risks based on the area, and data for spread in those places.

Professor Weitz believes the rally has a high risk of spreading the virus because of the numbers on the COVID-19 tracker. Data from the Department of Public health, the population of Bibb, and potential crowd size for the event determine Weitz’s reasoning.

“The risk goes up significantly with event size, and I don’t expect only 500 people there. I expect many more,” Weitz said. “Then the real question becomes not just the chance that one in the crowd could have COVID… We expect with thousands attending, the possibility that a dozen or more individuals could have the virus, and no symptoms.”
President Trump’s rally is outside at the Macon Regional Airport. Senior Advisor of Strategy for the Trump Campaign, Steve Cortes, said the President’s team wanted to hold the rally outdoors because airflow.  He says the event will have COVID-19 safety measures in place.
“We request that the elderly or infirm, of course not attend,” Cortes advised. “It’s probably not safe for them, but for most people, it’s perfectly safe to attend. They’ll get a temperature test. We’ll provide and advise masks for everyone. We don’t require people to wear them because we do believe in an element of personal choice. Again, people are responsible enough to make their own decisions based on their own health and risk profiles.”
To assess the risk of any event, check out the Georgia Tech COVID-19 risk tracker at covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu.
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Peyton Lewis is a 20-year-old reporter from Stockbridge, Georgia. She graduated in December of 2019 with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She found a love for reporting after receiving a video camera for her 8th birthday. She and her friends would make mock newscasts in her backyard other creative content. Peyton's love for writing and creating videos pushed her to pursue journalism. In order to kick-start her dream of being a reporter, she left the traditional high school experience at the age of 16 to attend Gordon State College as a full-time student. She graduated with her Associate's degree two weeks before graduating from high school. Previously, Peyton worked as a news intern for 11 Alive in Atlanta, a radio intern for the Joy FM, and a reporter/ technical manager for Grady Newsource. Peyton dreams to become an investigative reporter that leaves a lasting impact on the world around her. She loves Disney, dogs, spicy food, musicals, and her family. Peyton also enjoys reading, watching movies, cheering on the Dawgs, and going on new adventures.