It's not only 'the most wonderful time of year,' but its also the most risky time of year with COVID-19 meeting flu season. Here's what you need to know about your risk level during the holidays.


Like everything these days, almost all pre-COVID-19 traditions pose at least a small risk in contracting the virus. Since all states have handled the virus differently, gathering with people from out of state has potential to increase the risk.

Though celebrations are certainly going to look different this year, there are tools to help prep for the worst.

Risk can be determined through the number of people, where people are coming from and what their behaviors have been like in the two weeks before the event.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created a risk assessment tool to help determine the severity of a gathering based on the county it is in. The live tool shows risk per county, depending on how many people attend.

The risk of 50 people in a gathering are still pretty moderate in Travis County.

For instance, a 10-person gathering in Travis County has a 7% likelihood that one person would test positive afterwards but a 100-person gathering bumps the number up to 50%.

If you and yours are staying home for the holidays, the Texas Medical association ranked holiday activities by level of severity on a scale from one to 10. Anything in your home poses very low risk but the more contact it requires means the risk gets higher.

Attending Thanksgiving dinner with family members is a risk of three points, traveling by plane lands you at five points and attending a large indoor event poses the highest risk at 10 points.

The rankings on the list assume that all attendees are following COVID-19 guidelines and the chart reads "the more people, the closer together, the fewer masks, the more mingling indoors, the longer the time, the more singing and voice projection and the more alcohol—the greater the risk."

Official holiday guidelines can be found on the CDC's holiday guide.

The challenge for all of us this Thanksgiving is letting go of what we've lost in this tough year and treasure what we still have.

We at Austonia are thankful for you. Since we launched our site in April, we've done our best to connect you to Austin, with stories ranging from the important to the delightfully superficial. Your response has been strong and we are grateful.

At this time of thanks, we have a variety of stories for you. Laura Figi writes about "a greener holiday," food trends, and Friday shopping. Emma Freer writes about a nearby annual Native American heritage celebration. And Roberto Ontiveros brings us a thoughtful piece that looks at the human toll of Austin's gentrification—the often painful flip side to having shiny new bars, restaurants, and apartments—in this case it's displacement of the Black community on East 11th Street. Finally, we ask you how you're celebrating the holiday this year.

Our best to you and your loved ones!

—The Austonia Team

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