Restaurants seem to be a hotbed for catching COVID-19, according to a new report.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people diagnosed with the coronavirus were approximately twice as likely to have dined out at restaurants with the 14 days before they began to show symptoms of the virus.
“Eating and drinking on-site at locations that offer such options might be important risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the report reads. “Efforts to reduce possible exposures where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, such as when eating and drinking, should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.”
The report, which was released on Thursday, took data from more than 300 adults who were tested for the virus in July. Those participants had experienced symptoms of the virus, with 154 testing positive and 160 testing negative.
Tests were compiled from 11 different healthcare facilities in 10 states, which included: California, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah, and Washington.
Those in the report were asked to answer questions about their recent activities within their communities, including whether they recently dined at a restaurant, went to a bar, or exercised at a gym, all establishments that were temporarily closed when the coronavirus pandemic shut down non-essential businesses back in March.
The researchers from the report also asked respondents about their mask-wearing habits. Masks have been pegged as the key to stopping the spread of the virus and have even become mandates in some cities. On Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order mandating the MTA to issue a $50 fine for riders who refuse to wear a mask on public transit, which includes New York City subways and buses, Metro-North and Long Island Rail Road. That takes effect as of Sept. 14.
The CDC along with researchers from nearly a dozen medical centers across the US found that 42% of adults who tested positive reported being in close contact with someone they knew had the virus, with 51% being family members.
As for mask-wearing, 71% of adults with COVID-19 said they always wore a mask in public, while 74% of negative testers also admitted they wore a face covering, according to the survey.
The CDC’s study said they observed no other “significant differences” in group activities such as shopping, gathering with 10 people or more people at homes, going to work, hitting the gym, stopping at the hair salon, taking public transportation, or visiting places of worship.
But for those who tested positive, data showed that they were more likely to have dined at a restaurant two weeks before they fell ill, in addition to frequenting a bar or coffee shop.
The CDC said that this could be because of poor air circulation and how masks cannot be effectively used while eating and drinking.
“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. Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use,” the report said.