September 12, 2020

A Special Message To KDKA Radio's MARTY GRIFFIN

[Please pass this along to Marty. Thanks, I appreciate it.]


I appreciate that you're really pushing for the state and/or county to open up restaurants for more customers. In your push, I've heard you say that there's no science to warrant the decision to restrict the number of customers dining in restaurants (and so therefore those restrictions are unfair and burdensome).

Well, Marty, here's some science from the CDC:

In this investigation, participants with and without COVID-19 reported generally similar community exposures, with the exception of going to locations with on-site eating and drinking options. Adults with confirmed COVID-19 (case-patients) were approximately twice as likely as were control-participants to have reported dining at a restaurant in the 14 days before becoming ill. In addition to dining at a restaurant, case-patients were more likely to report going to a bar/coffee shop, but only when the analysis was restricted to participants without close contact with persons with known COVID-19 before illness onset. 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. [Emphasis added.]

I'm sorry that this is the case. I, too, miss going out to eat. But the stakes these days are very high and not only for my own personal health but for everyone's.  

This is very important - just as important as me protecting my own health - because even if I were to catch the virus and be among those lucky enough to be asymptomatic, I could inadvertently still be part of a transmission chain that could end up getting people sick and/or killing someone. This is the part of the story that you almost always seem to omit on-air.

If limiting the number of people sitting in a restaurant or at a bar is needed to keep the transmission down, then this is something that has to be done. The alternative, opening up the restaurants for the sake of someone's bottom line even when knowing that some of the patrons/employees are going to get sick and some of those will die because of it, is simply unacceptable.

Some other solution to the restaurant industry's plight has to be found. If anything instead of this false choice between the health of the industry and the public health, we should be discussing the need for a more robust social safety net so that that choice doesn't have to be made.

Sadly, with the GOP in control of the state legislature (and one chamber of the Congress in DC) a "more robust social safety net" will never be an option discussed.