As the Covid-19 Delta variant shifts what we consider to be “safe” and “unsafe” activities, a new online tool called the microCOVID Project is attempting to quantify those evolving risks. The model assesses a given scenario—say, a vaccinated person eating at an indoor restaurant with friends—in a specified county of the United States and produces an estimated risk of contracting Covid-19.

“It gives you a kind of common playing ground for understanding all sorts of activities,” says Ben Shaya, a contributor to the microCOVID project. “It separates some of the emotional load out of it.”

The project started after Shaya’s “pandemic pod” of friends and housemates wanted to be more equitable about safety precautions, so they took a scientific approach to their decision-making. “They wanted

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