Dr Anthony Fauci is warning that bars and restaurants should not reopen after Centers for Disease Control and Prevention research showed that people who recently dined out or went to bars are two-times more likely to test positive for coronavirus.
‘When you have restaurants, indoors, in a situation where you have a high degree of infection in the community, you’re not wearing masks, that’s a problem,’ Dr Fauci said in an MSNBC interview.
‘Bars are a really important place of spreading infection, there’s not doubt about that.’
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) research published last week showed that people who had recently dined out were nearly twice as likely to test positive for coronavirus compared to those who had not been to restaurants.
Top US infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci said that restaurants and bars clearly present high-risk environments for coronavirus infection in a Thursday night interviiew
People who tested positive for coronavirus were about twice as likely to have recently visited restaurants, compared to people who tested negative (third from left), CDC data reveals
Struggling food and beverage businesses in the hard-hit areas are thrilled, but the CDC’s data suggests that going to restaurants is linked to higher odds of catching coronavirus than riding the bus, going to offices or to the gym.
Dr Fauci said he ‘totally agreed’ with White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr Deborah Birx’s July recommendation that bars and restaurants stay closed in states like Kentucky that were struggling to get their outbreaks under control.
Barring indoor dining and drinking ‘becomes particularly important if you happen to be in an area where there’s a high degree of community spread, so those are things that are crystal clear,’ Dr Fauci said.
Restaurants and bars are now at least partially open in every state, even as states in the South and Midwest report alarming increases in coronavirus cases.
Bars in particular emerged as hotspots for infection in states like Arizona and Florida over the summer, and recent federal data drew a clear link between food and beverage establishments and COVID-19 cases.
The CDC collected data on 314 Americans who got tested for coronavirus.
Participants were asked about where they had spent their time in the past two weeks and with whom they had been in contact.
Of the entire group 154 people had tested positive and 160 people tested negative.
There was little difference in the percentage of people who tested positive or negative and had recently been to salons, offices, gyms or to stores to shop.
A new CDC report found that people are nearly twice as likely to test positive for coronavirus if they have eaten at a restaurant in the past two weeks. It comes as New York City allows dining in at 25% capacity starting September 30 and Florida reopens bars at 50% capacity Monday (file)
Positive and negative test results were also about equally common among people who lived with a few people, compared to those who shared their homes with 10 or more others.
Unsurprisingly, those who had had close contact with someone they knew had COVID-19 were about three times as likely to test positive as negative.
And the vast majority of those close contacts were family members, who were more likely than friends or colleagues to share a home with the covid-positive study participant.
Aside from close contacts, going to eating or drinking establishments was the strongest predictor of catching coronavirus.
Positive tests were ‘approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results,’ the CDC said.
Dining in was banned in 42 states, and Nebraska and Virginia put caps on the number of people restaurants could seat in March.
Only a handful of states – including Oklahoma and South Dakota, which have become hotspots in recent weeks – allowed dining in to continue at the height of the pandemic.
Now, most states have lifted their bans, partially or entirely, in fits and starts.
After months of pick-up and outdoor dining only in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that restaurants could have diners in 25 percent of their seats starting September 30.
Although office workers are also seated in a closed space, higher rates of infection in restaurants may be related to the obvious obvious impossibility of wearing masks while eating or drinking, as well as poor ventilation.
‘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.’
Those guidelines have varied considerably across country, including in the home states of the participants, which included California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.