As restaurants open up across America, it almost feels too good to be true: Can you really enjoy a meal, and support a local business or your favorite chain, without fear of catching COVID-19? Not exactly. “Dining out is one of the riskiest possible activities during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, citing the fact that masks are not used while people are eating and drinking,” reports The Hill. “CDC officials interviewed about 314 people who experienced symptoms of the virus and got tests, about half of whom were positive. Both the positive and the negative subjects said they had engaged in activities such as attending church and in-person shopping.” Read on to see how to stay safe, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had Coronavirus.
“Eating and Drinking” are “Important Risk Factors”
“Eating and drinking on-site at locations that offer such options might be important risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the CDC report states. “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 comes the same week New York, once a COVID-19 epicenter, announced it would allow indoor dining in restaurants—albeit at 25 percent capacity—starting on September 30.
“Findings from a case-control investigation of symptomatic outpatients from 11 U.S. health care facilities found that close contact with persons with known COVID-19 or going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options were associated with COVID-19 positivity,” said the CDC. “Adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results.”
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How to Avoid COVID-19
The CDC recommends extreme caution before deciding where to dine.
“This investigation highlights differences in community and close contact exposures between adults who received a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result and those who received a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result,” it said. “Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking, might be important risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infection. Implementing safe practices to reduce exposures to SARS-CoV-2 during on-site eating and drinking should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities and slow the spread of COVID-19.”
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Mask up, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, make sure your restaurant (if you must go to one) follows safety protocols, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.