Here’s a calculator that could change behavior and save lives

Laurel Kashinn
6 min readNov 24, 2020


Editor’s Note: I published this with a different headline, but after I showed the results below to my teenage daughter, the next day without hesitation she cancelled her plans to meet a friend after work, which she’s been doing (masked) regularly. Thus the headline above.

Do you love taking risks and playing slot machines? How about a game of Russian Roulette? Or something with even riskier odds?

Here’s a COVID-19 infection risk calculator that scientists around the world created that crunches all the data to calculate your risk, in your backyard. You can use it for holiday events as well as eating out, attending church, shopping — anywhere people might gather indoors in your community. (

Because testing is not universal or widespread, the scientists say, real infection rates are likely five to ten times higher than those indicated by test results. So the calculator enables you to determine a lower-to-higher risk spread.

Ready to roll the dice and play?

Find the odds of your infection! Select your county, size of gathering, and choose first the lower 5x- then the higher 10x-ascertainment bias. That will give you a low-to-high risk spread.

Think of your local grocery store, at peak shopping times this week. Want to know your odds? Count the cars in the lot, multiply by 1.5 or 2 to estimate how many people are gathered there, then drag that slider to the appropriate number to calculate your risk. (

Here are risk results for Ozaukee County, Wisconsin. I calculated risks for events of just 10 and 15 people, since my husband and I are cautious strategic recluses.

(See each caption for result explanations.)

This week, if I attend an event near me with 10 people in attendance, on the low side (5x) odds are 45% of us will get infected.
If 15 people show up at the event, our infection risk goes up to 59%.
I don’t really know how widespread testing is in Ozaukee County, so let’s look at higher-end risk. For a 10-person gathering the higher risk is 71%.
For events at which 15 attend, this week in Ozaukee County, as many as 84% may get COVID-19.

To summarize, this week in my home town of Cedarburg, Wisconsin, for every 10 people who gather, the odds are 5 to 7 will get infected. When 15 people gather, the odds are 9 to 13 will get infected.

Heard of herd immunity? Here are some risk calculations with that

Many of my neighbors trust there’s a good chance the infection will be mild and listen to non-mainstream sources promoting “herd immunity.” Let’s factor in some risk issues that herd immunity proponents never mention.

First, there’s the “long-haulers.” COVID-10 is not like the flu, which most people recover from in 5 to 10 days. Your odds may be as high as 87% you’ll be impaired 2 to 3 months. So if you’ve stocked up on food, OTC medical supplies, toilet paper, arranged for child care, and have cash to cover 2 to 3 months of sick days — and your employer can afford to wait for you — great.

Second, there’s risk of permanent damage. Got any children in your family? Children with severe cases who survive are winding up with serious permanent damage. Good with that risk, for children you know?

How about your odds of hospitalization? Right now, in Ozaukee County, 5 out of every 100 people who get COVID-19 are being hospitalized. Those odds don’t seem bad, right? But here’s the rub. If you are one of the 4,000+ Ozaukeans who will potentially need acute care after the holidays, our hospital capacity right now is 90% full — over SE Wisconsin. Indeed, that is something non-mainstream media doesn’t cover because it’s a fact not an opinion: our healthcare system is, in fact, overwhelmed right now. Health care leaders’ dire warnings and urgent requests for help to invest in field hospitals with more beds, have been falling on the deaf ears of our do-nothing, science-denying, obstructionist, cult-like Wisconsin GOP legislature.

So, the odds of getting a hospital bed and lifesaving treatment for COVID or any other garden-variety emergency—should you need it after the holidays—are slim and getting slimmer by the day.

Finally, the herd-immunity model is flawed, because long-term immunity is still questionable. There are growing confirmed cases all over the world of people getting COVID twice. We don’t know enough yet about this new, never-before-seen disease to know what those odds are.

This is NOT a hoax, or the flu, folks

Now is most definitely not the time to rely on “herd immunity” to protect you and your family. Ozaukee County and the US is nowhere near “herd immunity” level of 60% needed to be “safe.” The fact is — we don’t actually know, as there’s been virtually no investment in testing and tracking of blood immunity levels.

Now the good news! Can you and I minimize our risks? Yes we can!

  • Stay home and avoid all gatherings of people indoors
  • Shop fast, and at “off hours”
  • Do not chat with people while in the store — even masked
  • Cover both nose and mouth with a mask (Seen in Sendik’s last week: two women, NO masks, leaning over fresh fruit, talking. Easy to visualize germs being spread and settling on food.)
  • Stay away — 6 feet or more — from others
  • Wash hands with care — 2 minutes with soap and water — frequently
  • Wash food, throw away disposable masks, and wash cloth masks after touching them (leave outside until washed).

Be an early bird

We’ve gone back to shopping in the first hour stores open. It’s really pleasant! Everything is cleanest, air is still, with fewest numbers of shoppers in the store. Monday morning at 7:15 there were only about 15 cars in the lot at Sendik’s.

BE SAFE, dear friends! Thank you for taking care of yourself and loved ones including friends (like me) who have one or more of the health risk factors.

Hang in there and prayers of thanks help

Let us offer a flood of prayers of thanks and appreciation for all the good in the world, and for the wise, caring, helpful, cooperative people who pull together to help each other stay safe, who understand what it means to #flattenthecurve—with extra prayers for our dedicated high-risk-taking health caregivers on the front lines saving lives and being there for our loved ones in their final moments. Please pray for them. They are exhausted, and deeply disturbed. Witnessing death daily takes its toll. Especially when the people they are caring for and families believe this virus is a hoax. Some are even developing PTSD. They are #healthcareheroes! (Here are some more ideas to thank them.) I also pray for those who have been mislead to think this is a hoax. May God bless them, and open their eyes. God bless us all.

Yes, we can lower the risk for ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors!

Hang in there! A vaccine will be widely available soon! Let’s put our focus now on the great celebration that we will enjoy, God willing, at Thanksgiving 2021, with our loved ones healthy and alive beside us in the flesh, not just in spirit! Next year let’s make it the greatest of Thanksgiving celebrations!



Laurel Kashinn

Laurel Kashinn is a Certified Ghostwriter, Professional Résumé Writer, doTERRA Wellness Advocate, and Orthodox Christian living and writing in Milwaukee, Wisc.