People Who Test Positive for COVID-19 Twice as Likely to Have Eaten Out

We’re all looking to get back to normal. And for many folks, that might mean hitting a local restaurant. A dinner out might be a rare treat or a weekly routine. After months of strangeness, many people want to celebrate. It’s only natural that people are flocking to restaurants as they reopen. But, a CDC report might make you rethink eating out.

The report looked at data from 314 people. Of those people, 154 tested positive for COVID-19, 160 were negative. The information came from 11 test sites in 10 states around the country. The people who tested positive were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant within the two weeks before they tested positive. People who had been in coffee shops are bars were also more likely to be carrying the virus.

The study has two large holes in that it has a tiny pool of data, and they didn’t ask if people ate indoors or outside. That alone could make a big difference. However, as many states are reopening indoors dining rooms — and winter approaches quickly — more studies are needed to clarify the results.

People who had been in public transport, in offices, salons or other enclosed spaces where masks are required, were not significantly more likely to have the virus. This strengthens the argument that masks slow the spread of the virus. You have to take off a mask to eat or drink. Oklahoma and South Dakota allowed indoor dining during the height of the pandemic and are now, unfortunately, hotspots.

Local businesses are beloved places. We certainly have our favorites. It’s hard to stay away. But for the sake of our health — and the staff — we’re doing just that. When people eat, they take off their masks, which puts the waitstaff at higher risk. That may be how a bartender became ill with COVID-19, leading to a restaurant’s closure in New Hampshire this week.

Places that have never done take away have started during the pandemic. They started when their dining rooms were closed, and many have continued even as they have been allowed to partially reopen. Our team has been ordering food. It’s safer. We’ve missed celebrating quite a few birthdays and holidays and would love to visit a restaurant. But, we’ll be dining at home until the safety of restaurants is clearer. We’re learning more about COVID-19 every day. We’ll be back inside restaurants one day!
September 16, 2020
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