CDC reports people with Covid were twice as likely to have eaten at a restaurant before getting sick

If this were the only study which looked at eating in restaurants, you’d be right to take this skeptically.

However, you’re ignoring the recent, real-world studies of air circulation and its effects on SARS-Cov-2 transmission, and those have demonstrated conclusively that rates of virus particles in the air are higher inside than outside when an infectious person is or has been present, and that a restaurant ventilation system which blows air across or next to a table with an infected person towards other tables is spreading virus particles to the other tables (and increasing their infection chances), even if they’re 10 or 15 or 20 feet away, depending on the air flow. And talking, laughing, yelling, walking through the restaurant to serve or bus tables or go to the toilet, etc etc etc all create airflow that is chaotic and hard to predict - but in an enclosed space, promotes the distribution of virus particles.

Outdoor air movement has also been proven to dilute the particles in the air much more effectively than indoor air movement.

The facts - facts, not opinions - are that with current ventilation systems, it is more dangerous to eat inside a restaurant than outside a restaurant. And some restaurants are more dangerous than others - but we can’t determine which are better without a careful airflow analysis. This study is just an attempt to roughly quantify a danger we have already proven exists.

Accusing the facts of “wanting to keep restaurants closed” is silly - they’re just facts. And we either pay attention to actual facts, or we ignore them. You sound like you want to ignore them. Bon appetit, and welcome to a much sicker, more deadly October and November.


Can someone point me to the actual MMWR report in question? I am failing at identifying the correct headline on the linked page.

EDIT: Nevermind, I found it! It had scrolled off the front page.

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That’s what I think they did: half seems maybe too much. So let’s half it again and that seems good. I really doubt any principles of epidemiology have been applied. It’s also very one-size-fits-all, not taking into account ventilation or ceiling height.

At this point if we’re going to use arbitrary numbers I think it’s time to half it again and see if restaurants stop spreading it.

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I bet it’s a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the bare minimum required so that the restaurant can open at all and operate at cost (or at a loss that’s better than being outright closed).

It’s also easier to compute. Cutting a restaurant capacity in half, and half again, is easier than figuring out how open to 20% or 33.3%* capacity.

*Repeating, of course.

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Surfaces, I think, are the biggest problem, particularly the hard, metallic surfaces in toilets. Similarly the buttons in elevators.

There was a Victorian truck driver who infected ~30 people at a pub in Sydney and I reckon most of those infections came from the taps and door handles in the toilets.


Here’s input from a restaurant owner on that 25% figure, which works neither for that type of business nor for public health and safety:

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If nothing else, this whole pandemic has been a perfect opportunity to just get your food to go. I love the restaurant experience too, but you can’t eat it in your underwear that way. Getting food to go is a win-win.

That was what the majority of experts assumed at the beginning, because there wasn’t adequate research into air-carried virus particles, although a large minority thought that there was a lot of evidence for air-carried infectious matter. I’m avoiding the term “airborne”, some may notice, because it has a technical meaning to medical people and does not include many of the infectious droplets carried through the air for fairly large distances in some cases, depending on air flow patterns, something else that was not understood in February.

It’s much more difficult to track infectious particles in the air than to track them on surfaces, but the technology for doing so has improved a lot, and studies in the last few months show that the infections are mainly from air-carried droplets and particles. That matches up with a large number of superspreader events where surface contact simply didn’t explain the sheer volume of infections. The truck driver in Sydney that you mentioned probably was not wearing a mask in that pub, and was talking or shouting over the bar noise - so he was spraying infectious particles all over the place, aided by the ventilation system.

So - wear a mask, and encourage others to wear masks. Yes, continue to wash your hands after touching common surfaces, but you don’t have to be as afraid of surfaces as we were told to be in February and March. Washing everything that comes in your door with bleach water is not as critical as it felt back then. And using a public toilet in a poorly ventilated room with other occupied stalls or urinals is more likely to be dangerous because of the poor air movement patterns, not because of infected surfaces.


Yes fair enough but now that Victoria has pretty much universal mask usage, people are taking a close look at surfaces and objects like pens which people tend to share. There was an article this weekend about chains of contact which seem to have infected health workers.

Its like you use a pen while wearing gloves, then put it down, and the pen gets picked up by somebody not wearing gloves, and they later touch something on their face which causes an infection. That sort of thing.

Yes, everyone agrees that you can catch the virus from contacting infected surfaces and then touching your eyes or nose or mouth. But the most common way the disease is transmitted is through the air. That is a main reason that universal mask wearing is so effective for slowing the spread to a crawl. But hygiene and distancing are still necessary.

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This cites “dining at a restaurant”. Were figures given for takeouts?

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