As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, stadiums and other large venues remain shut or are operating at minimal capacity to keep the pandemic under control. Necessary and important social distancing policies have resulted in unprecedented lost revenue for professional sports events, concerts, festivals, trade shows, and other mass gatherings that bring thousands of people together for entertainment and business. These attendance-based industries will likely continue to face significant restrictions for well into 2021 and potentially longer. So, what can owners and event managers do to accelerate recovery? The answer is deceptively straightforward: Prove they can reopen safely.
What Do Organizations Need to Consider to Host Events Again?
Specifically, any organization hoping to host large events will need to be able to answer the following questions:
- At what capacity can an event operate while ensuring that the risk of infection at the venue is not greater than the risk of infection on a normal day in the community? Is any incremental risk acceptable and, if so, how much?
- What mitigation measures need to be in place at the event to reduce the risk of transmission?
- Once a vaccine is available, how will vaccination rates in the surrounding community impact allowable event capacity?
Even with clear answers to these questions, event managers will then need to show how they can host events, with all the economic and social benefits they bring, at an acceptable level of safety. They will have to:
- Prove to the governor or city that their events will not lead to an unacceptable increase in the number of COVID-19 cases.
- Show customers that they can attend an event without a high risk of infection.
- Demonstrate that their events will not compromise society’s efforts to combat the pandemic.
In short, event managers require strong and authoritative evidence revealing how their events might contribute to the spread of infection under different mitigation measures and prevailing rates of infection and potential vaccine adoption. That’s why we are teaming up with Epistemix to use a combination of computational modeling, simulation, and location intelligence to give leaders the data they need to define and communicate reopening best practices.
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Using Computational Models to Evaluate Reopening Scenarios
By using the Gravy Visitations data for NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, and convention center event attendance, Epistemix can run precise simulations of the epidemiological impact of mass gatherings using statistically accurate demographics for every census tract across the country. Once a vaccine is available, Epistemix can determine the number of people that need to be vaccinated and the number of vaccines required to reach the critical vaccination threshold. Their models account for local differences in population density, contact patterns, household structure, cross-immunity from prior infections, vaccine uptake, wasted vaccines, and social distancing policies.
These local, specific simulations give event managers the ability to prioritize changes to their facilities, compare operational strategies to decrease the total number of possible infections, and identify the capacity at which fans don’t face a greater risk of getting infected by attending than they did pre-COVID. Event managers can also use these data insights to partner with local and state health departments to accelerate their community’s journey to reaching the critical vaccine threshold, enabling fans to return sooner and build trust for when venues can safely open in larger capacities.
The worst thing event managers can do is open too soon and cause COVID-19 cases to tip out of control—putting lives at risk and forcing public officials to restrict operations even further. By leveraging extensive data and scientific best practices, Epistemix and Gravy give you the tools you need to gauge your COVID-19 response and lead the way out of this pandemic with your communities and businesses intact. Proving how you can reopen safely with data is the first step toward recovery.