2333: COVID Risk Chart

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COVID Risk Chart
First prize is a free ticket to the kissing booth.
Title text: First prize is a free ticket to the kissing booth.


This comic is another in a series of comics related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This comic is a graph showing the risk of COVID-19 infection of numerous activities on the horizontal axis, while showing the other (i.e. safety) risks of the activity on the vertical axis. The activities are also color coded green, yellow, orange, or red, presumably indicating whether engaging in them is a good idea. All the activities are green in the upper left corner (no COVID-19 danger and no other dangers), but change to yellow, orange, and red as you go right or down. This presentation and color progression is similar to a common presentation of a risk matrix. One-dimensional charts showing the COVID-19 risk of common activities were popular at the time of this comic, when businesses and schools were re-opening after the first wave of COVID-19.

The top of the graph contains activities that people are likely to engage in during the pandemic, beginning (from left to right) with staying at home, hanging out with friends at the park, grocery shopping, attending in-person classes, and singing in church. The first few activities are common and not very dangerous (colored green and yellow), but the last two come with significant risks of infection due to COVID-19 (they are colored orange and red). Lower on the graph the activities become more and more dangerous (though these dangers are not related to COVID-19, i.e.: they are non-covid risks) and then non-sensical, a trend often seen in xkcd comics. Some activities are grouped together, being variations of the same thing (such as going down a waterslide, going down a waterslide with a stranger, and going down a waterside on an electric scooter). The last row contains extremely dangerous activities such as (from left to right, or from low COVID-19 danger to high) bungee jumping while doing sword tricks, going down a waterslide on an electric scooter, (participating in an) axe catching contest, racing a scooter through a hospital with a mask over your eyes, and winning a test tube-eating contest at a COVID testing lab. All these activities are likely to result in undesirable outcomes.[citation needed]

Part of the humor comes from the increasing ridiculousness of the "red" activities, some of which are unlikely combinations or escalations of other less-risky activities (e.g. renting an electric scooter is a "green" activity, but riding that scooter with a stranger carries more risk, and then still more from racing that scooter through a hospital, with or without a mask).

This comic strip is similar in presentation to 2282: Coronavirus Worries.

The title text suggests a ticket to "the" kissing booth as a prize. Presumably, the prize is for the test-tube eating contest, and the booth is the kissing booth mentioned in the comic, "a kissing booth at a COVID testing site". A kissing booth is a kind of sideshow sometimes seen at carnivals, where members of the public can pay a small fee to kiss someone, usually an attractive woman. Winning a ticket would normally be positively received. However, since kissing is a very high risk activity for COVID-19 transmission, it would now be perceived as a kind of punishment. Moreover, if the ticket was the prize for the test-tube eating contest then not only would the winner already likely have infected themselves with COVID-19, but they are likely to have mouth injuries from eating glass, making the kiss even riskier.


The lowest-risk category of activities has very low COVID risk and also very low non-COVID risk.

Staying home
The lowest-risk activity of all, as long as the home itself is safe, and your family members do not have COVID-19.
Video chats
Video chatting carries a slightly higher non-COVID risk than simply staying at home, because you might get into an upsetting argument or accidentally expose something embarrassing. As long as the person you're chatting with is not within your personal space, the risk of catching COVID from them is still zero.
Hanging out with friends in the park
Physically interacting with others creates an increased risk COVID transmission, but the major risk of transmission seems to come from sharing enclosed spaces, not the outdoors, and as long as everyone keeps to themselves, they can still safely enjoy the social interaction (as long as they aren't prone to overthinking everyday decisions).
Going for walks
Going for walks carries very little COVID risk as long as you stay by yourself. It is slightly more dangerous than staying home though, as you might fall or hurt yourself in some way.
Hanging out with friends on the beach
This has a similar COVID risk as hanging out with friends in the park, but has slightly more safety concerns due to possible unpleasant encounters with crabs, jellyfish, and other ocean-going animals as well as the risks posed by extended UV exposure. There are also negligible risks of tsunamis, shark attacks, and encounters with other rare and deadly animals.
Riding an electric scooter
Electric scooters are scooters powered by electricity. They have increased in popularity recently, representing a form of lightweight transportation. If done by oneself, riding one has essentially no risk of coronavirus, but it is relatively easy to injure oneself when riding an electric scooter. Electric scooters have previously been mentioned in E Scooters.
Renting an electric scooter
This has a slightly higher COVID risk than riding your own scooter, as a previous renter could have left traces of the virus on the handle bars. In terms of general safety, it is the equivalent of riding your own scooter.
Going down a waterslide
Waterslides are common attractions at water parks and even some community pools. They are simply slides made faster by running water down them. They are not extremely dangerous, so long as the rider can swim or stand in the pool of water at the end of the slide, though it is definitely possible to injure oneself on one, both reasons perhaps contributing to it being the most dangerous of the "green" activities. As long as the water is properly filtered, any handrails are sanitized between riders, and riders waiting in line and in the pool are appropriately separated, there is little risk of catching COVID.


The medium-risk category of activities has medium COVID risk and also medium non-COVID risk.

Grocery shopping
Going shopping for groceries involves entering a building in which others are present, including many workers who are present for hours-long shifts. The risk of catching COVID can be reduced by wearing face masks, barriers between staff areas and customer areas, and limiting customer densities.
Grocery shopping while hungry
Shopping for groceries while hungry does not carry any greater risk of catching COVID, but this shows a slightly increased non-COVID risk because people who go shopping while hungry tend to buy foods that are more expensive and less healthy. (Be advised that a study that popularized this "common sense" result has been retracted due to academic misconduct by its author, Brian Wansink.)
Grocery shoplifting
Shoplifting is taking goods without paying, so this activity is stealing groceries. It would expose you to the same amount of COVID risk as regular grocery shopping, but would additionally subject you to the risk of arrest and/or physical retaliation. And even if not detected, self-inflicted risks may result from your possibly apocryphal chosen method of subterfuge. While this activity is not very risky and is colored yellow, it is probably not a good idea.
Riding a single rental scooter with a stranger
This is a bad idea, as most rental scooters are designed for only one person. It would also expose you to a stranger, who might have COVID. The safety concern of riding with two people on a one-person scooter is not reflected in the comic.
Going down a waterslide with a stranger
This carries the same risks as going down a waterslide by yourself (as long as the waterslide is designed for two people), but exposes you to a stranger who could have COVID.
Getting in a stranger’s car
This can potentially be risky because driving is dangerous, and because murders have occurred in the past when people hitchhike. Getting into a stranger’s car would also expose you COVID, if they are carrying the virus. A car is a confined space, which is generally considered particularly bad from a COVID perspective.
Playing lawn darts
This activity poses little risk of COVID-19 transmission, as this game is usually played outdoors and players generally do not have to be close to play, so standard outdoor precautions can be taken. Lawn darts can pose a moderate risk of personal injury if played unwisely, which is why they have been banned in their original metal-tipped form in the United States and Canada.
Climbing up a waterslide with a stranger
This activity poses similar risk of COVID-19 transmission as the "going down a waterslide with a stranger" activity, but there is higher non-COVID risk because waterslides are meant to "go down", and going against the normal flow of water (or without ensuring that nobody else is sliding down) may result in injury.
Getting in a stranger’s car uninvited
This has similar risk as the normal "getting in a stranger's car", but there is higher risk of getting in a car uninvited, as you may be considered a hijacker or trying to steal the car, and thus the stranger may physically attack you.
Doing skateboard tricks
Performing tricks on a skateboard, especially if well away from other people, carries little risk of COVID-19 transmission, but carries a moderate risk of personal injury, especially when a manoeuvre does not go as intended and/or the rider unintentionally comes off the board to collide with the ground and/or obstacles.
Riding a conveyor belt through the TSA x-ray machine
This has relatively low risk of COVID infection, assuming the conveyor X-ray machine belt is sanitized; however, this is generally not legal or lawful and may get you in trouble with the TSA and other authorities, and you might get cancer because of the exposure to X-rays.
Axe throwing contest
Under normal circumstances, attending an axe throwing contest is a fairly risky endeavor, as an improperly thrown axe has a tendency to rebound off the target and could hit you (whether you are throwing or merely spectating). The global pandemic adds an additional layer of risk, as if you are engaged in an axe throwing contest you most are most likely in close contact with other people increasing your risk of catching COVID-19.


This is where things start getting serious. This category of activities has a higher COVID risk and same for the non-COVID risk.

Attending in-person classes
While there is low risk to injure oneself in class, most schools have closed at the beginning of the COVID pandemic to prevent the virus from spreading through close proximity attendees. Some schools have switched to online classes, while others have reopened and reduced the number of students per classroom. The risk of transmission would then be greater when attending in-person than online class.
Attending online classes while in class at a different school
Continuing on the previous activity, participating to classes in both modes at the same time wouldn't augment risks associated with COVID, but could cause mental exhaustion or similar stress-related symptoms. If you are not properly paying attention to a class you should be attending, or have inexplicably gone to a classroom that you have no reason to be in, there are further risks that you will fall foul of a teacher's or school's authority.
Getting a dental cleaning
Superficial dental work by a trained practitioner is not particularly risky under normal circumstances, but COVID precautions in most sitations (keeping at a distance, using face coverings) aren't compatible with the requirements of one person leaning in close to another person's open mouth and prodding into it with various tools.
Going on a Tinder date
Meeting a stranger is very much the point of a Tinder date. Even if the intimacy only extends to drinks and/or a meal it is difficult to 'socially distance' while still being sociable. The meet-up intention, by one or both parties, might be expected to be even less distancing. As well as COVID risks from well-intentioned encounters, there are very basic risks (on the night or consequentially) to health and happiness that cannot be entirely ruled out.
Getting a dental cleaning from a Tinder date
It seems that the COVID risk from combining the above two activities do not significantly compound, but: the low likelyhood that an almost-random stranger is trained in dental hygiene adds to the non-COVID risks to impromptu dentistry; if they are qualified, they are unlikely to have turned up properly equipped; if they arrive equipped, without pre-arrangement, that may also be worrying.
Doing skateboard tricks in a hospital
Skateboarding in a confined indoor setting, or in rooms furnished with beds and equipment should be significantly more risky than in a skatepark or other typical venue. Possibly the immediacy of healthcare professionals and supplies makes the outcomes of any injuries less problematic. However, your exertions in the proximity of likely sources for the COVID pathogen is a significant issue in itself.
Racing a scooter through a hospital with a mask on
Your skateboard tricks may have been not particularly mobile, like Feet Stomps and other in-situ board-flips. If you're on a scooter (foot-, electric- or combustion-powered) that is deliberately traveling fast then you're living more dangerously. But at least you're wearing a mask, to slightly reduce the accompanying contagion risks...
Racing a scooter through a hospital without a mask
...unless you aren't?
Setting off fireworks in your car
A car is an extremely confined space, and most fireworks need a lot of space once lit. It's not obvious if you are supposed to be in the car yourself, but there is at least risk of damaging the vehicle.
Running and sliding headfirst into the pins at a bowling alley
Intending to impact a bunch of 1.5kg pins, with your head doing the job normally done with a ~7kg ball, is not considered particularly risk-free. Being in a (normally) communal recreational facility, there may also be chances of contact with surfaces previously shed-upon by the exertions of a COVID-infected person.
Stealing a stranger’s car
This is illegal, may involve risk of physical confrontation and do you really want to get into that driver's seat without thoroughly disinfecting it first?


This is where things start getting really serious and even somewhat absurd. This category of activities has the highest COVID risk and the highest non-COVID risk.

Singing in church
Being in a public gathering place such as a church is a significant exposure risk for COVID. While singing is normally harmless, in a church singing is often done without masks and in a group, further increasing exposure in this case. There have been cases of outbreaks traced to choir practices/performances, which motivated bans on singing in churches. However, the same article mentions that a fluid mechanics expert studied the airflows from singing and various instruments and came to the conclusion that "singing is quite safe". (Certain instruments were another matter.) N.b., the outbreaks traced to the four choirs mentioned in the article were all prior to widespread practice of prevention measures.
Going to a restaurant
Restaurants are another place where traffic and exposure to COVID is high, as well as being a confined space. Other accidents, such as fires, falls, or choking add to the non-COVID risk.
Going to a bar
Similarly to restaurants, bars are also a place where COVID-19 spreads often. Bars can be more crowded than restaurants, with people sitting or eating in closer proximity. However, since the customers are more likely to be drunk and to get into a fight, the non-COVID risk is increased. Even if not engaging in violence, people who are even slightly inebriated are more likely to ignore standard precautions like social distancing.
Going to a party / Hosting a party
Parties are a highly social activity which increases exposure to COVID. Hosting or attending a party carries similar COVID-related risk as both involve interactions with others, while accidents can occur at a party, contributing to the non-COVID risk. However, hosts may still have a slightly larger COVID-related risk as they are more likely to be touching objects or surfaces on which the virus is present as they tidy up during or after the party, and are likely in proximity of all the guests during the party.
Going on a cruise
Cruises have been a site where many people have contracted COVID, leading to the high COVID-related risk. However, there are other risks associated with cruises that are non-COVID related, such as the risk of the ship sinking, or other sicknesses, etc.
Opening a kissing booth at a COVID testing site
Opening a kissing booth at a COVID testing site is likely to attract others who may be sick with COVID (since they are likely at the testing site to be tested, or to have been in proximity to someone who is), and kissing them greatly increases the risk of transmission. Opening a booth close to a testing site may also lead to controversy, adding to the non-COVID related risk. (A kissing booth is a place where one can kiss the person at the stand as a prize or in exchange for money).
Doing skateboard tricks in a bar
As mentioned before, bars are places where it is very likely to contract COVID. Doing skateboard tricks in such a confined space also leads to a very large risk of injury.
Skateboarding in a mosh pit on a cruise ship
Mosh pits are often very densely crowded with people, so the risk of transmission is huge. Also, doing skateboard tricks in such a crowded area means one could get trampled, knocked over, run into other people and/or things, etc. Additionally, doing these on a cruise ship heightens the risk, as mentioned above.
Getting a COVID test from a stranger at a crowded bar
As mentioned before, bars greatly increase the risk of contracting COVID, and getting a test from a stranger means the test itself carries many non-COVID related risks coming from a malicious or incompetent stranger. Testing for COVID-19 involves taking a sample of mucus, saliva, or blood; any of these sampling apparatus may potentially be contaminated with COVID or other diseases if they are being improperly re-used.
Bungee jumping while doing sword tricks
While bungee jumping is an activity that is often not performed in a crowded area, meaning that it is difficult to contract COVID while doing so, the act of bungee jumping while doing sword tricks could lead to a host of injuries.
Going down a waterslide on an electric scooter
As mentioned before, if the waterslide is not used by many people, riding it is not likely to cause COVID. However, since waterslides contain water and electric scooters contain batteries (they don't mix well, safety-wise), many injuries may result. Also, some areas of the waterslide {i.e. tunnels) could result in you flying out of the electric scooter and injuring yourself further.
Setting off fireworks in a stranger's car
A car is a confined space, and so the risk of contracting COVID is higher. Setting off fireworks in cars also will cause many injuries to everyone in the car, and more injuries in reactions from the driver and/or other angry passengers.
Axe catching contest
The proximity to others during a contest means a higher risk of contracting COVID. As for the axe catching part, injuries are likely to occur from attempting to catch flying axes, especially if the catcher is inexperienced.
Racing a scooter through a hospital with a mask over your eyes
A hospital is a place where COVID patients often stay, leading to a higher risk of contracting the disease. Having a mask over one's eyes would do nothing to help reduce the risk. Riding a scooter while effectively blindfolded in an area that has many obstructions like a hospital can lead to many injuries.
Winning a test-tube-eating contest at a COVID testing lab
Eating many test tubes which potentially contain samples containing COVID will almost definitely lead to one contracting the disease, and eating glass will lead to numerous internal injuries which will then easily lead to death. The title text proclaims that "First prize is a free ticket to the kissing booth!" further increasing the risk.


[This comic is a graph plotting the safety risk of activities on the vertical axis and the risk of infection from COVID-19 on the horizontal axis. Lowest risks are in the upper left corner, and highest in the lower right. All activities are color coded green, yellow, orange, or red. A two way arrow labeled “non-COVID risk” points up and down to "high" and "low" labels on the left side of the graph. Another two way arrow labeled “COVID risk” points left and right to "high" and "low" labels on the top of the graph.

From left to right and top to bottom:]

Staying home & Video chats, Hanging out with friends in the park, Grocery shopping, Attending in-person classes, Singing in church
Going for walks, Hanging out with friends on the beach, Grocery shopping while hungry, Attending online classes while sitting in class at a different school, Going to a restaurant
Riding an electric scooter, Renting an electric scooter, Grocery shoplifting & Riding a single rental scooter with a stranger, Getting a dental cleaning & Going on a Tinder date, Going to a bar & Going to a party & Hosting a party & Going on a cruise
Going down a waterslide, Going down a waterslide with a stranger, Getting in a stranger’s car, Getting a dental cleaning from a Tinder date, Opening a kissing booth at a COVID testing site
Playing lawn darts, Climbing up a waterslide with a stranger, Getting in a stranger’s car uninvited, Doing skateboard tricks in a hospital, Doing skateboard tricks in a bar
Doing skateboard tricks, Riding the conveyor belt through the TSA x-ray machine, Axe throwing contest, Racing a scooter through a hospital with a mask on & Racing a scooter through a hospital without a mask, Skateboarding into a mosh pit on a cruise ship
Setting off fireworks in your car, Running and sliding headfirst into the pins at a bowling alley, Stealing a stranger’s car, Racing a scooter through a hospital with a mask on & Racing a scooter through a hospital without a mask [extends from previous row], Skateboarding into a mosh pit on a cruise ship & Getting a COVID test from a stranger at a crowded bar
Bungee jumping while doing sword tricks, Going down a waterslide on an electric scooter, Setting off fireworks in a stranger’s car & Axe catching contest, Racing a scooter through a hospital with a mask over your eyes, Winning a test-tube-eating contest at a COVID testing lab

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I'm sticking to the green, except for grocery shopping. It'll be a pain to make any kind of table for this. The columns are much better defined than the rows, though. 18:37, 15 July 2020 (UTC)

Same! I think we do need to make a table or similar structure to explain each item though. Not exiting, but necessary! Do you think we should switch everything to columns? Since we've started with rows, maybe we should just continue...Cow (talk)

Staying home is a death trap. Here some random numbers (Germany 2019): Deadly accidents at home - 8000, Deadly accidents in traffic - 3500. 07:50, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

Nice argument. Why don't you back it up with a source? 'Cause I doubt the truth of those numbers. I think they were made up. R3TRI8UTI0N (talk) 04:19, 26 January 2024 (UTC)

Singing in a church: is this where the expression "mass contamination" comes from? 08:31, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

Or "weapons of mass destruction"? 09:00, 17 July 2020 (UTC)

Not all the things on the far right seem to have equal covid risk. Simply going to a restaurant or some of the others that are simply dangerous by being around a lot of other people in close proximity doesn't seem to compare to opening a kissing booth at a covid testing site, the eating test tube things, and the mosh pit on a cruise ship for instance.-- 09:03, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

There's no inherent extra disease risk in _opening_ a kissing booth (beyond the possible proximity to others). However, the people working/volunteering at the booth you opened that might have a higher-than-average risk due to kissing all the testers and people coming to be tested. :p 12:08, 16 July 2020 (UTC)
(Required to make a choice between them and someone else, for which all else is equal) I'd kiss an off-duty Covid-tester, because they're probably far more protected by PPE during their shift (and know how to don and doff safely) than most other people, and screened with even more caution. The tester would probably not want to kiss me, in my booth, due to at least the latter point. 14:04, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

I feel like 1252: Increased Risk is quite relevant here. But I can't decide whether it should be linked as general trivia, or directly related to the paragraph about dangers of going to the beach. --Lupo (talk) 09:16, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

There have been cases of known transmission of COVID-19 during choir rehearsals and performances, so it belongs where it is shown. The choir at my church is down to two people, at opposite ends of their area. Nutster (talk) 16:01, 16 July 2020 (UTC)

"Skateboarding in a mosh pit on a cruise ship": So this looks like confirmation that NOFX and Bad Religion will be playing on the 2021 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. Iguanabob (talk) 14:47, 17 July 2020 (UTC)

To be fair to test-tube eaters, every COVID test I've taken involved plastic tubes, not glass. So really hard to chew, but probably won't break into sharp pieces. Nitpicking (talk) 02:13, 31 October 2023 (UTC)