Risks & benefits of everyday activities

Last updated January 31, 2023.

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Risks and Benefits infographic

Throughout the pandemic, we have all had to make decisions about how to stay safe while taking care of our social, emotional, and physical needs. We’ve had to weigh the risks and benefits of each activity while COVID-19 is circulating in our communities. It isn’t always easy to make these choices. This webpage is intended to help empower you to make the decision that is right for you.

Different people may have different risk factors depending on their specific situation. This is not a one-size-fits-all guide, but a series of suggestions for how to think about risk. 

This page is meant to help you consider the risks and benefits of optional in-person activities. It does not apply to work, education, or child care, as those are usually not optional.

When deciding whether to participate in an in-person social activity, consider:
  • Are you up to date with your COVID-19 vaccines? Are other people participating in the activity up to date?
    • Getting all recommended doses of the COVID-19 vaccine greatly reduces your risk of getting sick and needing to be hospitalized. Vaccinated people are also less likely to spread COVID-19. 
  • How much is COVID-19 spreading in the community?
  • Do you or people you live with have any extra risk of serious illness from COVID-19?
    • People at high risk of severe disease should carefully weigh the risks and benefits of the activities in which they choose to participate.
    • In general, the older you are, the more health conditions you have, and the more severe your conditions are, the more important it is to take precautions. Staying up to date on COVID-19 vaccines, wearing a mask
      around others, and washing your hands regularly can all reduce your
  • How many people does the activity involve?
    • The smaller the group size and the larger the space, the lower the risk.
  • Is the activity taking place outside? If not, can you improve the ventilation
    • Outdoor activities are less risky than indoor ones.
    • Improving the ventilation in an indoor space can help reduce risk. Open
      doors and windows if weather allows, or run the HVAC or an air cleaner.
  • How long does the activity take?
    • Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected.
  • How will you get there?
    • Public transit can put you in close contact with others and increase your risk.
    • Traveling in cars with people who don’t live with you can also increase your risk. If you are sharing a car with someone outside your household, consider wearing a mask or opening the windows to increase airflow.
  • If you are exposed to or get sick with COVID-19, will you have to miss work or school?
    • If you get sick, you will need to isolate. If you are exposed, you should
      take precautions around others.
  • Do you have a plan to get medicine if you get sick with COVID-19 ?
    • COVID-19 medications work best if they are taken within a few days of
      when you first got sick. It’s important to get seek treatment quickly to
      lower your risk of serious illness.

Stay home if you are sick. Get your COVID-19 vaccine, including your booster when it’s time.