September 30, 2020

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There’s now even more evidence that restaurant dining sharply increases COVID spread

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Growing evidence indicates that proximity to other people is among the easiest ways for coronavirus to spread, especially indoors. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) adds to the thesis and points to a very specific culprit: Restaurant dining.

In a survey of more than 800 adults, the CDC found that people who had contracted COVID were twice as likely to say they had dined at a restaurant in the preceding two weeks.

The CDC survey examined behaviors ranging from shopping at a mall to visiting people in a home. But the consistent culprit, according to the study, was going to a restaurant.

“No significant differences were observed in the… analysis between case-patients and control-participants in shopping; gatherings with less than 10 persons in a home; going to an office setting; going to a salon; gatherings with more than 10 persons in a home; going to a gym; using public transportation; going to a bar/coffee shop; or attending church/religious gathering,” the agency says in its report. “However, case-patients were more likely to have reported dining at a restaurant… in the 2 weeks before illness onset than were control-participants.”

To put it more simply: The conditions required for dining at a restaurant are significantly more complex than other public activities during the COVID pandemic.

You can’t put on a mask while you’re eating; group dining will inevitably lead to conversations and, well, revelry that may sway people to throw caution to the wind. Sitting close together at a table also makes it pretty difficult to stay six feet apart.

There’s been plenty of focus on how indoor proximity can spread COVID; agencies ranging from the CDC to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has its own report, have release plenty of material about how this may exacerbate the problem.

More coronavirus coverage from Fortune:

  • Hong Kong’s citywide COVID-19 testing has become a barometer of public trust
  • How this year’s 40 Under 40 are surviving the pandemic
  • Why the coronavirus pandemic has made 5G more essential than ever
  • Gutting this federal program could undermine Americans’ confidence in a COVID vaccine
  • More than manufacturing: India’s homegrown COVID vaccines could transform its pharma industry

Sy Mukherjee

2020-09-11 16:20:05

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