Story at a glance

  • The CDC published a new study examining COVID-19 positive patients and their social habits.
  • Among positive patients, most were likely to have dined out prior to getting sick.

"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," says a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The study, released last Friday, looked at a representative sample of 1,827 adults who received a test for the coronavirus in an outpatient location between July 1-29. From this sample, researchers whittled the group down to 314 symptomatic patients, composed of 154 patients with positive COVID-19 results and 160 patients with negative results. The patients who tested negative served as a control group. 

To gauge how each patient may have come into contact with the virus, researchers interviewed each patient and asked about public health practices and where they had recently visited. Researchers used logistic regression models to control for any confounding variables like race, age or sex. 


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In each equation, exposure was the predictor variable, with a positive COVID-19 as the outcome. 

The results indicated that case study participants — people with positive COVID-19 test results — were more likely to have dined out at a restaurant within the two weeks before illness symptoms onset than their counterparts in the control group.

This study corroborates existing scientific literature that hypothesizes that viral particles can transmit easily in air-circulated environments. The authors also write that while a majority of case patients reported using a mask prior to the onset of symptoms, the acts of eating and drinking in a public and closed setting are enough to contract the coronavirus.


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“Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance,” the report reads. “Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use.”

Additionally, researchers noted that a plurality of 42 percent of patients with COVID-19 reported coming into close contact with another COVID-19 patient, as opposed to 14 percent in the control group. This further underscores direct contact with an infected individual can result in transmission.

While the overall sample size was small and limited to a relatively restricted population, the research furthers the case to slow the spread of the virus by implementing rigid public health practices and limiting people in indoor spaces. 


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Published on Sep 14, 2020