Frequently Asked Questions

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I want to use the calculator for a region outside of the United States. Why is the risk level tool in Step 1 only for the US? is the only tool we could find which gives a clear answer regarding regional risk, but it currently only covers the United States. We're actively trying to find similar tools for regions outside of the US, so contact us if you know of one.

In the meantime, you can estimate your region’s current risk level using the following rubric:

Case Growth WHO Preparedness Standards
Low Declining Meets or exceeds
Medium Steady Meets
High Increasing Below
Critical Exponential Dangerously below

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Why did you include alcohol as a variable?

For a couple of reasons:

  1. Alcohol lowers perception of risk, which may decrease distancing and mask-wearing
  2. Alcohol harms hearing, which increases speech volume, which increases the emission of droplets

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Why did you not include eating food as a variable?

Eating food, in and of itself, does not appear to be a problem; removing one's mask is the problem, which has to be done in order to eat. If people are going to be eating at the event, the answer to the question about mask-wearing should be "none" or "some", which will raise the event's overall score.

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Why did you not ask about social distancing?

The current formula triangulates distancing via three questions:

We chose this route rather than asking about distancing directly because studies suggest self-reporting is often, shall we say, overly optimistic.

Further, we are working on adding inputs for precise numbers on space and crowd size. For example, if you are a shop owner and you know the square footage of your store, you can enter that and how many folks you are letting in at a time in order to guage if minimum distancing is possible.

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Why did you not include personal risk factors like age or a pre-existing condition?

Two reasons:

  1. First and foremost, the inclusion of personal health factors may create the impression that the tool is dispensing medical advice, which it is not!
  2. We want to keep the tool as quick and easy to use as possible, while also keeping it as broadly applicable as possible. Our experiments with more variables did not seem to significantly increase accuracy, so we left them out for now.

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If you have questions about the tool, or problems with any of the thinking behind it, feel free to email us or tweet at us!