In an in-depth interview with MarketWatch, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the Front of the AIDS Pandemic in the early 1980s for three decades, warned people against eating in restaurants.
Quentin Fottrell, personal finance editor at MarketWatch, asked Fauci if it was really more dangerous to eat inside a restaurant than outside. Fauci replied that people should think twice before leaving: "Yes, absolutely. Inside is much worse than outside. "
"When you go to a restaurant, try as much as possible to have outdoor seating that is properly distributed between the tables," said Fauci. "I'm not going to restaurants right now." His comments come after several states have withdrawn their plans to allow indoor dining.
Last month, Governor Gavin Newsom announced nationwide withdrawals from restaurants, bars, zoos, wineries, museums, ticket rooms, and cinemas. "This is in every county in California, not just on the watch list," he said. He said the corona virus had spread at an "alarming rate".
In addition, the shutdown also affects the operation of gyms, places of worship, offices for non-critical offices, hairdressers, beauty salons, shopping centers and other business premises in 30 counties on the California "watch list" and makes up 80% in the state of California.
"We have emphasized this several times, which means we are returning to a change mode of our original order for staying at home," Newsom said. "This is still a deadly disease." He added: "It is a dynamic list. Counties come up and in some cases counties come off."
By Sunday, COVID-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, had infected 16.1 million people worldwide and 4.2 million people in the United States. According to Johns, it had killed over 645,482 people worldwide and at least 140,534 people in the US Hopkins University.
California reported 7,877 new cases and 89 new deaths on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases there to 448,260 and the number of deaths to 8,429. New York has the highest number of deaths (32,608), followed by New Jersey (8,510) and Massachusetts (8,510).
Before the nationwide announcement in California, New Jersey restaurants were due to reopen for indoor dining on July 2nd, but days before Governor Phil Murphy said this would not happen. However, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo only stopped indoor dining in New York City, which was scheduled to reopen the week after July 4, and not across the state.
"There is nothing magical about six feet. That's about the average distance that droplets can travel, so it's always better to be further away from people."
"This is a single modification in New York City as it is frankly a problem that is most pronounced in New York City," said Cuomo earlier last month. "New York State is doing well, but I feel there are storm clouds on the horizon," he added.
"Outdoor dining worked very well across the state, including New York City," said Cuomo on July 2. "There have been no major indoor food outbreaks," a New York City Department of Health spokesman told MarketWatch.
"We have seen spikes in other states, in part caused by guests returning to indoor restaurants where they sit and are uncovered for extended periods of time," Murphy said during a briefing on June 29.
What makes indoor dining riskier?
For starters, it can be a lot more difficult to place tables further apart when you're inside. Although six feet is the common distance that people should keep from one another to avoid potentially contacting breath droplets that can transmit coronavirus, there is scientific evidence that these droplets can migrate well beyond six feet.
"Six feet is nothing magical," said Ryan Malosh, an epidemiologist for infectious diseases at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. "It's about the average distance that droplets can travel, so it's always better to be further away from people."
In addition, air filtration is generally better outdoors than indoors because particles have more space to disperse, Malosh said. "A light breeze can scatter particles without restricting the distance they can travel."
Diners don't usually wear masks outdoors. However, wearing masks indoors can significantly reduce the likelihood of virus-borne particles being spread, said Thomas Russo, head of the Infectious Diseases Department at Buffalo University.
"Going to school and getting elementary school students to wear masks will be difficult, but it's an important activity that is very different from going inside to a restaurant."
In fact, over 140 customers who visited a hair salon in Springfield-Greene County, Missouri, where two stylists tested positive for coronavirus, did not become infected with the virus themselves. The county health director, Clay Goddard, cited the “value of masking” as the reason that 140 clients and six other salon employees had no coronavirus.
Meanwhile, more than 100 cases of coronavirus have been traced to a bar in East Lansing, Michigan, which reopened on June 8. Malosh used this as an example of the increased risk of dining indoors.
The bar, Harpers Restaurant & Brew Pub, has since closed to install "air purification technology". This is clear from a statement on Facebook
on June 22nd.
(Harper did not respond to MarketWatch's request for a comment.)
Although shopping malls and cinemas can be reopened in some states after restaurants can be reopened for indoor use, Russo says the interior poses a greater risk.
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"Whenever there is a scenario where everyone can wear masks at any time, the risk is less," said Russo. "When you eat, you can't physically wear a mask, but you can minimize that risk by putting it back on between bites."
States such as New York and Jersey, which are particularly badly affected by the virus, also plan to reopen schools in the fall and "start the school year in the best possible conditions," Russo told MarketWatch.
"Going to school and getting elementary school students to wear masks will be difficult, but it's an important activity that is very different from going to a restaurant indoors."