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Facing Uncertainty

How the heck is anyone supposed to know when it's safe to go out in public again? So many headlines! So many opinions! So many different numbers! So many charts!

As if raising a new life wasn't already hard enough. Now we're all faced with keeping our families safe from invisible danger of COVID-19.


Even though there's no magic formula for safety, I have found a few websites that I find to be very helpful in making decisions.


No need to struggle with mental math and comparing your home town with far away places. These links will break it down for you in terms that you can wrap your mind around.


All that's left is to figure out your own level of risk tolerance. (That's all LOL.)


First, this beauty from the Harvard Global Health Institute (HGHI). It's a COVID Risk Level Dashboard that color codes every county in the US by risk level. Risk levels are calculated based on daily cases per 100,000 population. They've done the hard part for us! Now you can compare rural Wisconsin to Milwaukee! You can easily compare your home town to Grandma's house.

Zoom in or hover over any county and a flag will pop up with county level details. You can turn states on and off individually too. Scroll down below the map to read more about what the colors mean. Be patient though when viewing on your phone! It does work, but there's so much data it can take a while to reset.


Next is a sweet little risk calculator for attending events! Wedding season is nearly over, but there are still a lot of events tentatively scheduled. Everyone is eager to get out again and see the world, mingle with family, maybe even go back to school. You can use this COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool to gauge the risk of encountering a COIVD-19 positive person at a variety of events.


Check this out! Suppose my high school was having a reunion. I've set the attendance at 100 people and zoomed in on Calvert County. The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event in a county, given the size of the event. So if 100 people were to gather, we'd have an 82% chance that 1 COVID-19 positive person would be there.

I've found the map tab to be the most meaningful, but there are several others to explore. I love that they include a tutorial on how to use and understand the data presented. And even better, the methods and scientific assumptions are all laid out for inspection for anyone who cares to do so. I just love data and transparency!


I hope these tools can help you determine what makes the most sense for you and your loved ones. All of us have different circumstances and feelings about taking on risk. Chances are, you've already been through some changes since March. Go forth with informed decisions.


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© 2019 by Jennifer Barton