• Joe Xie

Why You Might Want to Reconsider That Next Restaurant Gathering

A latest study from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team and the CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (these folks are some of the most highly educated & respected healthcare professionals in the world, and are tasked with on the ground rapid response to epidemics and pandemics) has resulted in some interesting findings regarding where people are getting infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.


The study looked at adult symptomatic COVID-19 patients at 11 outpatient healthcare facilities around the country and evaluated their close contact and community exposures.


Some of the highlighted results are as follows:


"However, case-patients were more likely to have reported dining at a restaurant (aOR = 2.4, 95% CI = 1.5–3.8) in the 2 weeks before illness onset than were control-participants (Figure). Further, when the analysis was restricted to the 225 participants who did not report recent close contact with a person with known COVID-19, case-patients were more likely than were control-participants to have reported dining at a restaurant (aOR = 2.8, 95% CI = 1.9–4.3) or going to a bar/coffee shop (aOR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.5–10.1). Among 107 participants who reported dining at a restaurant and 21 participants who reported going to a bar/coffee shop, case-patients were less likely to report observing almost all patrons at the restaurant adhering to recommendations such as wearing a mask or social distancing (p = 0.03 and p = 0.01, respectively)."


These results are not terribly surprising. I mean it's pretty hard to keep a mask on when you're trying to stuff your face with that next bite of eggs benedict. If you are dining in an indoor setting and talking and eating, you're going to be spraying aerosols all over the place which without high ventilation rates (which most bars/coffee shops/restaurants do not have, unlike a hospital) will build up over time.


People also seem to think that if you are dining outdoors and keeping 6 feet apart from other patrons, you're not likely to get sick. Although your chance of catching a respiratory virus is lower, there is certainly still a risk, considering everyone who is eating around you are not wearing a mask and talking to their table-mates at the same time (generating aerosols).


By the way, we are not advocating that everyone abandon eating out altogether. We are all for supporting our local businesses because unlike Wall Street or the stock market being propped up with trillions of dollars of quantitative easing funny money, they are a part of the real economy. I would urge everyone to consider delivery/take-out services instead of dining in at the restaurant; and if you must take the extra risk of dining in, try to reduce your chances of exposure by going to a place with outdoor seating and keep at least 6 feet apart from others, especially if they are not wearing a mask.


Last but not least, Safety Nest can help restaurants evaluate their COVID-19 response and provide optimal solutions to prevent SARS-CoV-2 exposure to both employees and patrons; please contact us.