Community venue exposure risk estimator for the COVID-19 pandemic

Ziheng Sun, Liping Di, William Sprigg, Daniel Tong, Mariana Casal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Complexities of virus genotypes and the stochastic contacts in human society create a big challenge for estimating the potential risks of exposure to a widely spreading virus such as COVID-19. To increase public awareness of exposure risks in daily activities, we propose a birthday-paradox-based probability model to implement in a web-based system, named COSRE (community social risk estimator) and make in-time community exposure risk estimation during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We define exposure risk to mean the probability of people meeting potential cases in public places such as grocery stores, gyms, libraries, restaurants, coffee shops, offices, etc. Our model has three inputs: the real-time number of active and asymptomatic cases, the population in local communities, and the customer counts in the room. With COSRE, possible impacts of the pandemic can be explored through spatiotemporal analysis, e.g., a variable number of people may be projected into public places through time to assess changes of risk as the pandemic unfolds. The system has potential to advance understanding of the true exposure risks in various communities. It introduces an objective element to plan, prepare and respond during a pandemic. Spatial analysis tools are used to draw county-level exposure risks of the United States from April 1 to July 15, 2020. The correlation experiment with the new cases in the next two weeks shows that the risk estimation model offers promise in assisting people to be more precise about their personal safety and control of daily routine and social interaction. It can inform business and municipal COVID-19 policy to accelerate recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102450
JournalHealth and Place
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Birthday paradox
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Exposure risk
  • Probability
  • Risk mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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