Despite the prevailing narratives of “re-opening” amid the coronavirus pandemic, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that, of the people surveyed, people who tested positive for the virus were nearly two times as likely to have had a meal at a restaurant within two weeks of developing symptoms than people who tested negative.
Looking at a pool of 314 symptomatic outpatients (including 154 people who tested positive and 160 who tested negative) researchers examined behavior data ranging from mask-wearing behaviors, self-rated physical and mental health, chronic medical conditions, close contact with other people (within 6 feet for greater than or equal to 15 minutes) with a person with confirmed COVID-19, workplace exposures, and community activities.
“Findings from a case-control investigation of symptomatic outpatients from 11 U.S. health care facilities found that close contact with persons with known COVID-19 or going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options were associated with COVID-19 positivity,” according to the study, published Friday. “Adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results.”
Air circulation in restaurants/indoors can be a problem (examples below)
“Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance.” 2/2https://t.co/mfkXIdHdue
— Dr. Ali Nouri (@AliNouriPhD) September 10, 2020
According to the researchers, 42 percent of adults who tested positive “reported close contact with a person with COVID-19,” with majority of that close contact exposure being with family members, “consistent with household transmission.” They note that 14 percent of people who tested negative reported close contact with someone who tested positive.
“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 researchers note. “Reports of exposures 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.”
They note that, obviously, it’s impossible to effective wear a mask while eating and drinking (with the all-too-important over-the-mouth and over-the-nose seal in tact), “whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use” — which can explain why shopping and indoor activities that allow masks to stay on can see different (less substantial) risks.
“Eating and drinking on-site at locations that offer such options might be important risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the researchers conclude. “Efforts to reduce possible exposures where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, such as when eating and drinking, should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.”
Before you go, check out our favorite natural cold remedies for kids: