However, some users report feeling more anxious after using them. Nick Rafter, 38, a real estate agent in the Ozone Park section of Queens, was digging the numbers before social gatherings or outings. “It was mostly out of curiosity, not deciding whether to do it or not,” he said. “I wanted to be prepared for what might happen, so I planned ahead. If I had caught Covid, at least ‘The calculator said I had a chance. …”
But he soon realized that knowing his risk made his emotional state more volatile. “I started to think maybe I shouldn’t have come. Am I infected now?’ and I would have a miserable time and feel anxious,” she said. After taking his booster shot in November, he decided to stop running the numbers, especially if he was going to meetings anyway. (He said he might turn to the calculator in the future. “I’m going on a cruise in February,” he said. “I can see myself using it for that.”)
Some are discovering, through calculators, that the people around them may not be the best risk decision makers. Recently, a scientist who claimed to be careful and safe asked Ms. Bergstom out. But after he offered a date, she realized it wasn’t.
“He told me where he wanted to go, so I looked online and looked up the numbers and they were all indoors and very small, and the day and time he invited me out would be the busiest,” he said. “I didn’t even want to suggest anything else. I turned him down because I thought his judgment was weak.”
Other people love calculators because they give them unbiased, unemotional data with which to make (and support) their decisions.
“It’s like having a mediator come in and say, ‘This is not a good idea,'” Mr. Lee said. “If your parents want to get together and you don’t, it takes away their feelings. It’s just medical advice that says ‘This is not a good idea’.” Ms Johnson said many of her friends had reached out to her and used this to explain to their families the risk of rallying.