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Articles on Risk

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Before the pandemic, an intergenerational tea party wouldn’t have seemed a risky proposition. fotostorm/E+ via Getty Images

It’s impossible to determine your personal COVID-19 risks and frustrating to try – but you can still take action

People want a simple answer. Is this action safe? But despite Anthony Fauci bouncing responsibility for COVID-19 risk assessment to individuals, your risk can’t be boiled down to one probability.
So much uncertainty around risk can make it extra hard to decide what to do. Richard Drury/DigitalVision via Getty Images

Pandemic decision-making is difficult and exhausting – here’s the psychology that explains why

People tend to dislike uncertainty and risk – two things that are hard to avoid completely during a pandemic. That’s part of why it can feel especially draining to make even small decisions these days.
Vaccination has allowed people to be more social again with much less risk of serious illness, but less cautious behaviors put people at an increased risk of catching the virus. Sabrina Bracher / iStock via Getty Images Plus

If I am vaccinated and get COVID-19, what are my chances of dying? The answer is surprisingly hard to find

Calculating your risk of death or hospitalization if you are infected with the coronavirus requires good data – notably, the total number of infections in the US. Unfortunately, that data is fuzzy.
A ‘100-year flood’ doesn’t mean you’ll be flood-free for the next 99 years. Win McNamee/Getty Images

What’s a 100-year flood? A hydrologist explains

Flood plain statistics can be confusing. There are better ways to think about the risk of severe weather than 100-year storm or flood.
Misinformation and lack of information during the pandemic have made it even harder for people to assess risk. Xesai/Getty Images

People have had a hard time weighing pandemic risks because they haven’t gotten information they needed when they needed it

People have a hard time assessing risk in the best of times. Adding a world-changing pandemic with evolving and sometimes conflicting information has made personal risk assessment much harder.
The new SARS-CoV-2 variant’s increased transmissibility is believed to come from a change in the spike protein, visible here in yellow under an electron microscope. National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases

How to stay safe with a fast-spreading new coronavirus variant on the loose

The new SARS-CoV-2 variant is already spreading in the US and could be dominant by March, the CDC warns. Here’s what that means for the masks you choose and how you practice social distancing.

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