What’s Your Personal Covid Rating?

“I’d invite you in for a minute but..

(lengthy explanation of who I’ve seen and what I don’t know).”

“I’d like to hang out but…

(lengthy explanation of who I’ve seen and what I don’t know).”

“I’d give you a hug but…”

The long explanations and hyper-vigilance are getting stressful. Almost as stressful as self-isolation. With the holidays around the corner, I was wondering why there isn’t an easier way to communicate our level of virus-avoidance. I searched and searched for a self-assessment tool and couldn’t find one, so I made one. I posted a rough draft on Facebook and got some good feedback: make it a color chart AND a number chart, simplify the language and take any whiff of judgement out of it.

The point of this rating system is not to create divisions where people can take sides. It’s a tool that allows us to bridge existing divides and explain our personal choices and situation quickly, so that we can all set boundaries in a healthy way. The chart quantifies two practices—wearing masks and social distancing—in two realms: what I can control and what I can’t control. On my Facebook post, more people put it into action than gave feedback.

  • “I’m a 1. I’ve only been outside three times in six months, but my immune system is compromised.”
  • “I’m a 3 but I try to be a 2.”
  • “My cousin is a 5 and he wants to visit Grandma. How can we make that happen?”

When you’re planning your get-togethers, you can share the chart to find who you’re comfortable being with. If you’re a 4, you might think twice about drinking—which inevitably lowers inhibitions and masks within a short time. If you’re a 1 and you’re desperate for company (why wouldn’t you be?) you can host a “party of one” that is less lonely. Or if you can’t hold these conversations comfortably, you can post the chart somewhere and encourage everyone to be mindful and respectful of each others’ boundaries and what they mean.

Beyond the holidays, this self-rating, which communicates both practice and situation, can make it easier for us all to make choices about how we gather. When we can quickly assess the intersection between practice and situation, we can make decisions about how to interact most safely. Ones and Fives who love each other might consider finding common ground at 3. Someone staying below 3 would choose not to attend a gathering of fives. In an emergency situation where someone with a compromised immune system needs help, a 4 (by choice or not by choice) can call out for a 2 to minimize risk. A neighborhood or business might choose to work together to lower their average rating. And so the dream blossoms: of creating larger and larger safety bubbles.

“I’d like to invite you in for a minute. What’s your PCR?”

“I’m currently a 4.”

“Okay, let’s keep masks on and keep it super short.”

“I’d like to hang out but I’m a 4.”

“I’m a 5, I’d rather die than give up my freedom. Let’s have a drink and go listen to music. Die Young, Stay Pretty, is my theme song. And I could use the company. I never see my family anymore.”

“Sounds great, but how about we do it on Facetime?”

“You’re a one, too? Maybe we could safely hug?”

“God yes, but only for ten seconds. I’m dying for a hug.” “Turn your head. I’m glad you’re not actually dying.”

Free Downloads & Purchase a Sticker

Social Media, Printable poster & Large Square sticker/vinyl cling. The fourth item is an alternative design that has a different slant but is still a good conversation piece.

I am not a medical professional, but by putting this self-assessment out there, my hope is that others will take the concept and modify or polish it. Maybe someone can figure out how to add the third dimension of hand-washing, or other dimensions of vaccines and negative tests. I’ve released all rights to this infographic through Creative Commons, inspired by this pledge:

The Creative Commons Covid Pledge:

Immediate action is required to halt the COVID-19 Pandemic and treat those it has affected. It is a practical and moral imperative that every tool we have at our disposal be applied to develop and deploy technologies on a massive scale without impediment.

I therefore pledge to make this piece of my intellectual property available free of charge for use in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and minimizing the impact of the disease.

I will implement this pledge through a license that details the terms and conditions under which our intellectual property is made available.


To the extent possible under law,
has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to
Personal Covid Rating Scale #1 & #2.
This work is published from the United States.


What do you think?