Research suggests link between dining out and risk of pandemic, says CDC

*Community and close contact exposures continue to fuel the spread of Coronavirus ─Researchers

*Drinking makes people move closer together, speak louder, thereby generating more aerosolised droplets that may contain infectious viral particles

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As one of the significant risk factors for contracting COVID-19 pandemic, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that adults who tested positive for COVID-19 were around twice as likely to have gone to a restaurant or bar in the two weeks prior to becoming ill.

ConsumerConnect gathered the researchers said Thursday, September 10, that newly sick people who did not have any known contact with a person with COVID-19 were far more likely to have reported dining out in recent weeks.

The CDC study concluded that situations “where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to places that offer on-site eating or drinking, might be important risk factors for acquiring COVID-19.”

As regards the use of nose masks by the infected people, the researchers found that most of the study participants, both those with and without COVID-19, said they commonly wore masks.

Seventy-one percent of people with COVID-19 said they always wore a mask when out in public and 74 percent of those without COVID-19 said the same, according to the study.

The study, however, noted that a major difference between the two groups was that people who tested positive to Coronavirus were more likely to have reported dining at a restaurant, bar, or coffee shop in the two weeks before they became ill.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, in New York City (NYC), said: “The bottom line is that many people don’t put their mask back on when they aren’t eating and drinking, and may be engaged in conversation.

“This very fact increases the risk of transmission, and is compounded by lack of enforcement by management at eating and drinking establishments.”

Glatter said the involvement of alcohol could also boost COVID-19 risk.

He said that drinking “makes people move closer together, speak louder, thereby generating more aerosolised droplets that may contain infectious viral particles.”

The study authors noted that a limitation of the study was that it was conducted on a relatively small group of participants (314 adults).

A larger study would help determine whether the same conclusion emerged out of a larger group of participants, as the study also did not differentiate between indoor or outdoor restaurant dining, said researchers.

They wrote: “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.”

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