How to Use

This site allows you to assign "scores" to various COVID-related restriction policies using the table below.

Columns represent stringency levels that vary from "No Restriction" (meaning allowed to operate at 100% of capacity) to totally "Closed". The rows represent categories of business lines.

You should assign scores within a category based on the relationship you wish to see between a restriction and the trajectory of COVID-19 fatalities. For example, under the default a county is given twice as many "restrictions points" (20 points) if it limits bars' or restaurants' indoor capacity to between 1% and 25% relative to setting it between 51% and 99% (10 points).

Similarly, the weights allow you to alter the emphasis between various category restrictions and the relationship to COVID-19 fatalities. If, for example, you want to focus exclusively on how bar restrictions ultimately related to COVID-19 fatalities, you can assign Bars a weight of 500 and the rest weights of 0. (However, the sum of the policy scores in each row must still be 100, even if the weight is 0.) The default weights each category equally.

When you click "Show Chart", the site will use the scores in the table to calculate a stringency score for each US county on a week-by-week basis. Counties are then sorted into either a below or above average score group for the week. The cutoff is based on the week's population average score across counties. (This means the high and low score groups cover approximately the same total populations.) The graph then displays the cumulative fatalities per 100,000 people for each group over time. Because these calculations are done weekly, counties will move across the high and low score groups over time as both their policies and those of other counties across the country change.

The chart ends in December 2021. After that nearly every US county had few if any COVID-related restrictions in place.


Stringency Levels:

Only bars and restaurants have Outdoor stringency levels. If businesses in some other category was only allowed to operate outside, the restriction was classified as Closed in the data.

Score assignment restrictions:

For each policy category, the stringency scores must sum to 100. The weight column must sum to 500. Negative scores are not allowed.

The score for each stringency level must be greater than or equal to that of the less restrictive level below it (i.e., stringency levels must be weakly increasing from left to right.)

"Set Scores to Default" button:

Sets every score back to its default value.

Fatality Lag menu:

You can see how policies currently are related to fatalities four or six weeks after they are in place. Selecting a lag time will relate total fatalities in week t to the polices that were in place 4 or 6 weeks prior.

Example: You set the lag to 4. On April 1 county A and B had populations of 10 and 50 as well as stringency scores of 250 and 340 respectively. Counties C and D had populations of 20 and 40 and scores of 100 and 200 respectively. The population weighted average score based on the April 1 policies is (10(250)+50(340)+20(100)+40(200))/120 = 245.83. In this case counties C and D will be in the low stringency group for April 1 and counties A and B will be in the high group for that week. The week of April 28 counties A and B had a total of 750 fatalities while C and D had a total of 1,000. The high line will display 750 additional fatalities, while the low line will display 1,000, as of April 28.

Category No Restriction Capacity 50plus Capacity 50 Capacity 25 Outdoor Closed Weight
Sum: 100
Movies N/A
Sum: 100
Sum: 100
Retail N/A
Sum: 100
Spas N/A
Sum: 100
Sum: 500