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Friday, September 11, 2020

New CDC report links COVID-19 cases with dining at restaurants

Posted By on Fri, Sep 11, 2020 at 12:22 PM

click to enlarge Two women eating at Detroit's Parc in 2019. - CRAIG LOYER / SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Craig Loyer / Shutterstock
  • Two women eating at Detroit's Parc in 2019.

Thinking of going out to eat during this pandemic? According to a recent study from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults over the age of 18 who tested positive for the coronavirus are “twice as likely” to have dined at a restaurant two weeks before reporting symptoms, CNN reports.

The study used data from 314 adults throughout 10 states who experienced COVID-19 symptoms in July. Of those adults, 154 tested positive, and 160 came back negative.



Patients were asked about their mask-wearing habits, as well as their daily activities, like going to the gym or grocery shopping. Though there were few differences between the positive and negative sets, one thing stuck out: those who tested positive were more likely to have dined at a restaurant 14 days prior to reporting symptoms.

“In addition to dining at a restaurant, case-patients were more likely to report going to a bar/coffee shop, but only when the analysis was restricted to participants without close contact with persons with known COVID-19 before illness onset,” the study reads.

The data also revealed that of the adults who tested positive, 42% said they had been in “close contact” with someone who had coronavirus. Just 14% of those with negative cases had reported being in close contact with a positive case, 51% of which were family members.

Most of the adults used in the study — 71% of those with COVID-19 and 74% of those without — said they “always” wear a face mask in public.

Researchers wrote that exposure in restaurants have been linked to air circulation.

“Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance,” the researchers wrote.

When Michigan reopened indoor dining in June, Harper’s Restaurant and Brew Pub in East Lansing was linked to 138 coronavirus cases over the course of a weekend. (The restaurant blamed long lines and overcrowding beyond their control. Soon after, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer banned indoor service at bars, citing the fact that alcohol tends to get people to speak loudly, gather closely, and lower their inhibitions.)

In August, six front of house employees of Birmingham sushi restaurant Adachi tested positive for COVID-19. Also last month, the State of Michigan began publicly publishing its outbreak data, which includes various services like bars and restaurants. The data is organized by region and shows if outbreaks were linked to staff or customers or both.

The CDC labels dining out at restaurants with indoor and outdoor seating where capacity has not been reduced and tables are not spaced six feet apart as being the highest risk to contract or expose others to the coronavirus, as eating and drinking with a mask on is, well, impossible. Dining in or on patios, even where some precautionary measures are being enforced, still pose a threat for those dining and service industry employees.

The lowest risk is, of course, ordering takeout, using drive-thru services, or curbside pick-up.
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