The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Making Decisions in a Pandemic
A framework from two epidemiologists
Co-authored by JoLynn Montgomery, PhD, MPH
In many communities in the United States, government restrictions designed to curtail the spread of Covid-19 are being lifted, despite rising rates of infection. Many of the messages to the public about how seriously to take Covid-19 and how to stay safe are confusing. Some people are returning to their activities as if the pandemic is over, while others are avoiding in-person interactions. How can you make sense of it all and figure out how and when to safely proceed with your life?
Recently, several visual guides have been circulating on social media in an attempt to provide some instruction. These images show various in-person activities ranked from low risk to high risk. Unfortunately, these rankings are of limited use because they don’t address the specific circumstances of the activities that might make them risky. Furthermore, the rankings don’t provide any guidance about how to reduce your risk while doing these activities.
For example, in one ranking, “going to the beach” is listed as a moderate risk activity. But going to the beach is not always risky. The level of risk is directly related to how crowded the beach is. The more crowded, the more risky. It is misleading to rank all beach outings as moderate risk. What might really help is some guidance about how to have a safer beach outing.
These rankings are just one example of information about Covid-19 that is leaving many of us overwhelmed and unsure of what to do. What we need are tools we can use to make decisions about participating in specific activities and reducing the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19.
Life Is Now a Game of Risk. Here’s How Your Brain Is Processing It.
Americans are faced with more risk than ever. Understanding how the brain navigates this new reality can build…
“Risk reduction” is the idea that a person can change or skip specific activities in order to lower their risk of infection. This is different from “risk elimination,” which is the idea of completely avoiding all in-person activities to remove any…