Want to learn more? Read the Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter Overview

Model Assumptions

Creating a Public-facing COVID-19 Risk Meter for the Truckee Meadows Community

Frequently Asked Questions (updated 10/30/2020)

1.         What is the purpose of the Truckee Meadows COVID Risk Meter?

The Risk Meter was created to help synthesize data and information about COVID in our community and empower residents to make personal behavioral decisions with easy to use information.  The risk meter uses data about COVID testing, new COVID cases, hospitalizations, and hospital capacity to assess the current state of COVID Risk in the region. As each of these data indicators increase, the risk score increases in an additive way.  You can access the COVID Risk Meter here:


2.         How can I use the Risk Meter?

The COVID risk meter is intended as a tool to empower personal decision-making in the era of COVID in our region. See the recommendations included in the text box next to the meter gauge.  These recommendations were developed by physicians to help reduce your risk during different periods of COVID risk. They provide advice on wearing a mask, gatherings, social distancing, and staying at home.

Work is underway to determine if the meter can be used in the future to assist with decisions about business openings, gatherings, educational environments, and the like.  For now, the meter is just designed to help you assess the risk to yourself and your family.


3.         How often is the COVID meter updated?

The COVID risk meter is updated daily by staff of the Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency (TMRPA) with statistics and values collected on the previous day.  Some source data are not updated or available over the weekend and thus the meter is not updated on Saturday or Sunday.  For more about TMRPA see:


4.         Should I use the COVID meter to decide how to run my small business?

The COVID risk meter does not indicate specific rules or conditions that should be implemented for any business.  Please follow all rules and mandates issued by Governor Sisolak which can be found here:



5.         Should I use the COVID meter to decide whether to send my kids to school?

The COVID risk meter was not specifically designed to control school closure or attendance policies.  Please follow the announcements and guidance of the Washoe County School District to determine whether your child should attend school in person.

For Information on Washoe County school COVID response click here:


6.         If I have questions about the COVID meter that are not answered on the site, whom should I contact?

You can start by contacting or fill out the form at the bottom of the homepage.  Once submitted TMRPA staff will connect you with the people that can answer your questions.


7.         Who created the COVID risk meter?

A group of advisors made up of doctors, medical professionals, data scientists, communications specialists and elected officials from across the Truckee Meadows region was assembled by Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve.  Learn who participated:

The advisers’ goals were to provide up-to-date information describing the status of COVID-19 in our community and to empower residents with an understanding of the current public health threat posed by COVID.  A smaller group of scientists created the actual meter and continue to work on it.


8.         What is being done to make the COVID meter better?

There are many updates in process to improve the COVID Risk Meter.  These include:

•  Translation of the site and FAQs into Spanish

•  Validation of model results

•  Addition of predictive capacity


9.         How was the COVID meter software written?

The COVID Risk Meter software was written in a free programming language called Python to allow for automation and web implementation. The modelling assumptions were guided by medical professionals, doctors, and public health experts and will be posted on the website in the future.


10.       How can I look at the information used by the meter?

In addition to the graphics on each data indicator page, the information and data feeding into each data indicator of the COVID risk meter are available at the following websites:

Risk Assessments – The daily count of risk assessments received by the Washoe County Health District is provided to TMRPA staff via email.  This information is presented graphically using raw values (black line) on the Risk Assessment data page here:

Test Positivity – The COVID meter uses a measure of test positivity as calculated by the State of Nevada Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) for the purpose of measuring elevated disease transmission as presented in Governor Sisolak’s Road to Recovery plan.  Current county-level testing statistics are available at Nevada Health Response.

New Cases Daily – Data are available publicly via the Washoe County COVID-19 Impact Dashboard website.

Medical Interventions – Data are available publicly via the Nevada Hospital Association website.

Hospital Capacity – Data are available publicly via the Nevada Hospital Association website.


11.       How does the COVID meter compare to other meters used in other cities or states?

There are a few COVID meters in other cities and states and some have taken a similar approach to looking at multiple data inputs to calculate the risk.  A couple examples include Harris County, TX and Los Angeles, CA.


12.       What if I want to offer a suggestion to improve the meter?

Please begin by using the “Connect With Us” form on the homepage or send your comments to:  A TMRPA staff member will connect you with someone that can help.


13.       Does the Washoe County Health Department use the meter?

The Washoe County Health District helped guide the creation of the risk meter and provides data for it daily.  The meter is one of the tools the Health District uses to assess the prevalence of COVID in the county along with their own testing, case tracking and contact tracing efforts.


14.       Does the Washoe County School District use the meter?

Yes, the Washoe County School District uses the risk meter as one source of information about the community-wide impacts of COVID in our region.   However, the School District uses other criteria and data including data specific to each school, existing WCSD protocols for handling outbreaks, and assessment of the limitations and impacts of fully digital learning.


15.       I don’t live or work in the Truckee Meadows, but I do live in a nearby community. Can I use the COVID Risk Meter?

The COVID risk meter is designed primarily for the geography of Washoe County and Carson City.  Data for your specific county can be found by accessing the State of Nevada DHHS dashboard found at  and by accessing the Nevada Hospital Association website at

The COVID meter uses hospital statistics that are reported from the “North” region and include Carson-Tahoe hospital, along with Renown, St. Mary’s, and Northern Nevada Medical in Washoe County.  Hospital data from the Tahoe Basin are not included in the “North” region. 


16.       If family or friends want to come visit me, or I have an important business visitor from out of town or out of state, how does the COVID meter help me?

The COVID Risk Meter enables you to make decisions based on the current risk of COVID in our community.  Each category of the meter has advice on modifying your behavior to reduce the spread of disease within the community.  It can help you to assess your personal comfort level with receiving visitors.


17.       Why does the COVID meter look like a speedometer?

The speedometer is a familiar gauge style that most people understand intuitively.  One of the goals of the COVID Risk Meter was to simplify messaging about COVID in our community and synthesize many data points into an easy to understand graphic. The COVID meter uses the familiar colors of green (low risk), yellow (moderate risk), orange (high risk), red (very high risk) and purple (severe risk) to communicate the message.  The gauge has a text box next to it with recommendations for you to consider that will help limit the spread of COVID in our community.


18.       Given the problems with reporting COVID test results and positivity levels, why should I trust the meter?


The meter uses the best available data for all indicators analyzed.  As better data become available, we will work to incorporate that information into our analysis.  

Truckee Meadows Regional Planning Agency © 2020