A new coronavirus risk chart has begun to spread around social media. This one comes from the Texas Medical Association.
This is the second coronavirus risk chart to make the rounds on social media, the first coming from an MLive article that interviewed four Michigan public health experts.
How is this one different? Is it any more or less trustworthy than that one?
Are these coronavirus risk scores credible? How do the scores compare to the other list?
Members of the Texas Medical Association’s 15-member COVID-19 Task Force and Committee on Infectious Diseases ranked on a 1-10 scale which activities were the biggest risks. The average of those scores became the final scores listed in the charts.
Their scores are very similar to the one from the Michigan health experts. All scores are within two ranks of each other between the two lists.
WHAT WE FOUND
Steve Levine, the vice president of communication for the Texas Medical Association, explained to VERIFY that one of the TMA doctors saw the list from Michigan and thought they should do something similar. They took 38 activities, which they chose based on activities they thought many Texans would do, and put them on a survey asking doctors to rank them on a 1-10 scale.
Levine said experts were told to keep in mind whether an activity was inside or outside, proximity the activity would put people to others, exposure time to other people, likelihood of compliance with recommendations, and personal risk level.
The scores don’t necessarily have a formal meaning except that this activity is more risky for COVID-19 spread than that activity. They don’t tell you how much more risky a 7 is than a 6, just that the doctors surveyed generally believe that a 7 is more risky than a 6.
The TMA news post for the chart explained that doctors scored the activities under the assumption people would take as many safety precautions as they can. That means they assumed people would social distance or wear masks in environments where they can, such as the grocery store.
There are 15 doctors on the TMA COVID-19 Task Force plus additional doctors on the Committee on Infectious Diseases. That allows for a much larger sample size than the one used to create the Michigan list, which interviewed just four experts.
Nonetheless, the scores between the two lists are relatively similar. The Texas Medical Association list ranks movie theaters, airplanes and office buildings two scores higher than the Michigan list, while the Michigan list ranks the playgrounds two scores higher than the Texas Medical Association list. All other activities that appeared on both lists were either just one score apart or had no difference in score at all.
Just like with the Michigan list, this Texas list serves as a solid guideline to how risky some activities are compared to others, but it isn't a definitive list determined by consensus. Ultimately, the scores are averages of what experts think and their individual scores may have varied.
The broad categories the TMA list is divided into -- low risk, moderate risk and high risk -- can be used as a way to understand the experts' guidance without sweating over the specific scores.
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