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Before we talk about this study, it’s important to note that this shows correlation, not causation. It seems somewhat damning to me, but it’s been a few decades since I took college courses that included statistics and I’m sure some of you will be able to understand and explain this better. However you may have heard that the CDC did a survey of 314 people who were about to be tested for COVID in 10 different states. About half of them tested positive. The main different between the two groups were that the people who tested positive were “twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant” and were also more likely to have gone out to a bar or coffee shop. Here’s People’s writeup on this.
A recent survey of adults who tested positive for COVID-19 found that they were “twice as likely” to have recently dined at a restaurant than those who tested negative, the Centers for Disease Control said in a new study.
The study… was based on a survey of 314 people who were tested for COVID-19 in July across 10 states: California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Washington. The participants all went to get tested because they were experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, but of that group, 154 tested positive while the other 160 tested negative.
The researchers asked each participant about their activities in the two weeks before they went to get tested, and both groups — those who tested positive and those who tested negative — reported going to church, the gym and stores. The main difference came in those who said they had recently dined at a restaurant, had drinks at a bar or gone to a coffee shop.
The group who tested positive “were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 [the virus that causes COVID-19] test results,” the study authors said. Additionally, those who tested positive for COVID-19 but did not know where they had been exposed to the virus were more likely to have gone to a bar or coffee shop.
The results are an indication that places where masks cannot be worn at all times, such as a restaurant where people need to take their masks off to eat or drink, may be a higher risk for infection, the study authors said.
“Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to places that offer on-site eating or drinking, might be important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19,” they said.
The study, though, had limitations. The researchers did not ask the people who ate at restaurants if they dined indoors or outdoors — where respiratory droplets are more likely to quickly dissipate.
“Reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation,” they said. “Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance.”
It’s possible that the people who are testing positive for coronavirus are the types who are taking more risks in general too, and that going to a restaurant or bar is just one facet of that. From the results of this survey and the CDC’s explanation itsounds like indoor air is especially hazardous though. Plus let’s be realistic, people are absolutely not wearing masks and social distancing. Over the weekend my son and I picked up takeout at a restaurant that does not have an outdoor seating area. We called it in ahead of time and it was ready when we got there. We both wore the KN95 masks while getting the food, I was genuinely scared in there. Every staff member was wearing a mask and they had large clear guards up around the cash register. Every person who came in the restaurant, I counted about 6 in three different groups in the five minutes we were there, was maskless. Everyone was over 55 too. I live in a rural area and people can be especially ignorant and entitled. I feel so bad for people who work in the restaurant and service industries. That sector has been hit especially hard and there are so many restaurants that won’t be able to recover.
I might eat somewhere with provisions like this:
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