Is seeing your parents over the holidays, even at a small gathering, worth the risk? What about visiting a loved one in long-term care? Or catching up with a friend for a quick visit where you both are wearing masks?
While provinces have worked to put in new restrictions on everything from spin class to social gatherings, that idea of something being “worth the risk” is still on the minds of many Canadians as we head into the winter holiday season amidst a surging second wave of COVID-19. Sometimes it’s hard to determine exactly how risky an activity might be, especially when it isn’t directly covered by your local restrictions or public health guidance.
Thankfully, there’s a new tool to help you navigate some of those choices.
The 10-minute quiz was developed by researchers at the National Institute of Ageing, a public policy research centre at Ryerson University in Toronto, and walks you through exactly how risky your planned interactions with friends or loved ones are when it comes to COVID-19.
“Using the best available scientific evidence and the input of leading experts in infectious diseases and epidemiology, this website has been designed to help people of different ages and states of health figure out how to more safely visit with others during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the tool’s creators wrote.
The tool was developed in partnership with over 20 medical doctors and experts COVID-19 researchers. Factoring in everything from age to pre-existing conditions to how you plan to get to see your loved ones, the tool walks participants through every risk involved when it comes to COVID-19 in about 10 minutes.
WATCH: COVID tool assesses Thanksgiving risk. Story continues below.
It’s a great way of visualizing if that family dinner is actually as low-risk as you’ve convinced yourself it will be. Even if your interaction is determined actually to be low-risk, the quiz will look at every aspect of your planned interaction that’s risky, and help you weigh how important it is to you.
I walked through a hypothetical Christmas where my partner and I travel from Vancouver to visit her mom and grandmother in a nearby city. While all of us are fairly low-risk in terms of our jobs and pre-existing health conditions, the fact that we’d take public transit to get there, that her grandma is over 70, and that we’d have to spend a lot of time in close quarters indoors adds to the unnecessary risk. We’re ultimately opting out of seeing them over the winter holidays.
According to its creators, the tool is designed as a way to “prepare you and your loved ones to better discuss the potential risks and benefits of visiting with each other and in the end make a well-informed choice on how to make any necessary visits as safe as possible.”
You can opt in to having your answers to the risk assessment be used for further research on decision-making in the age of COVID-19, and for improving the tool for future use.
So, if you’re having a hard time making that tough decision, let the experts help you out.