Communicating with individuals about COVID-19 risk levels

July 19, 2022

As COVID-19 cases ebb and flow, the populations you serve may be wondering about the risk of engaging in pre-pandemic, every-day behaviors (e.g., attending social events). This is a difficult question as a healthcare worker, because, in order to reduce transmission, it is important for safety precautions (e.g., mask wearing, physical distancing, etc.) to continue as cases of COVID-19 persist. On the other hand, it is also understandable that many individuals are experiencing COVID fatigue and may not have the capacity to continue suggested precautions to the same extent, two years in. 

The important question for individuals is to weigh the level of risk they are comfortable with. Factors that are critical to consider to assess the level of risk include:

1. Personal health

  • Does the person have any comorbidities that would put them at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 (e.g., diabetes, chronic lung conditions, need for immunocompromising drugs, etc). ?
  • Is the person an older adult (e.g., above 65 years old)

2. Health of friends and family

  • Does the person come in contact with anyone who has comorbidities that would put them at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19? 
  • Does the person have any family and friends that they interact with who are older adults (e.g., above 65 years old)?

3. Vaccination status

  • Is the person or anyone they interact with NOT fully vaccinated?
  • Has the person or anyone you interact with NOT received a booster dose?

4. Safety measures taken

  • Are the person and those they interact with lenient on safety precautions in high-risk circumstances (e.g., wearing a proper mask when attending large social gatherings, or around many individuals indoors)?

5. Location & ventilation

  • Is the location of the activity/event attended by the person indoors? Or is there poor ventilation?

6. Transmission in your area


If the answer to any of these questions was yes, it could mean there is a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, or spreading the disease to others who would be at risk for severe illness. This can be a helpful checklist to run through with the population that you serve if they are curious about assessing the level of COVID-19 risk before partaking in an activity.