Post #878: College safer than home, for COVID-19?

Source:  William and Mary COVID-19 dashboard ,downloaded 10/24/2020.

Is my daughter safer from COVID-19 while at college, than she would be at home?  That’s the point of today’s calculation.  And the answer is a qualified “yes”.

You’ll see a lot of statistics regarding the number of COVID-19 infections within some defined population.  A few weeks back, the news was that nearly 20,000 workers had contracted COVID-19.  Back in June, it was 11,500 grocery store workers that had been infected.   Separately, you will see ongoing statistics on the large fraction of health care and first responder personnel who have been infected.

These are nice bits of click-bait, and do their job of getting people mindlessly angry at somebody.  Throw a big number in your face, get you to respond with your emotions and not your brain, and they’ve done their job.

Nobody ever stops to ask:  How many infections would be “normal” for the population in question?  Does the stated count of infections represent excess risk, above and beyond what the average American faces? Or does it just match the existing “background” rate of infections in a comparable US population?

Take, for example.

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