How to weigh the risk of going out in the coronavirus pandemic, in one chart

There’s a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about going out during a pandemic. Here’s how to think about the risk.

Fortunately, health experts know more about the coronavirus than they did when the lockdowns began, and they can point us to different levels of risk as we begin to reengage. There’s also advice on how to minimize harm.

“There’s been a polarization between two purported options of staying home indefinitely … versus going back to business as usual,” Julia Marcus, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Harvard, told me. “The idea of harm reduction gives us a way of thinking about risk as a continuum and thinking about the middle ground between those two options.”

Vox created a chart of the relative risks of different types of activities and environments as lockdown restrictions are being relaxed. The chart is based on the work of Boston University epidemiologist Eleanor Murray.