Only 1.5% of Pennsylvanians Who Had COVID Went to a Restaurant in the 2 Weeks Prior to Diagnosis
On Saturday, Pennsylvania restaurants will no longer be able to serve customers indoors. Earlier this week, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf ordered restaurants to shut down indoor dining in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
Additionally, other new orders issued issued on Thursday closed bars entirely. Gyms and fitness centers were also closed.
But are these businesses really to blame for the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania communities? Hardly, if you actually trust the data, as Tom Wolf and Health Secretary Rachel Levine claim they do.
Every week, Pennsylvania releases its contact tracing investigation results. Contact tracers around the state are trying to find out the places people who’ve tested positive have been in the two weeks prior to their diagnosis. But the data the tracers are collecting doesn’t support what Wolf did on Thursday.
The only reason Wolf did it is because he thinks he can.
Pennsylvania Restaurants, Bars Closed Because Governor Doesn’t Believe in Math
As of Dec. 7, according to state data compiled by the Commonwealth Foundation, there were 258,853 cases of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania since July 13.
Contact tracers weren’t able to make their all-important contact with most of them. They failed to reach 205,550 of those infected, or 79.4% of them. So, we don’t really know where those people visited prior to learning they were COVID positive.
Of the 21.6% who did respond to Pennsylvania contact tracers, only 1.5% said they went to a restaurant. That’s right, just 1.5%, or 3,964 of the more than a quarter-million part of a contact tracing investigation.
To be clear, Pennsylvania closed restaurants to indoor dining because 1.5% of the people who tested positive for COVID-19 said they visited one in the 2 weeks prior.
If that doesn’t sound like much of a risk of contracting COVID, consider the far less chance it happened at businesses that are completely shut down.
The risk was far lower at bars. Bars have been required to serve a “meal” with every alcoholic drink purchase since the summer. And just 4 one-thousandth of a percent (1,215) of Pennsylvanians reported going to a bar 2 weeks prior to their positive COVID result. Only 887 residents (0.003%) said they visited a gym prior to their COVID test.
Again, Governor Wolf saw this data and thought the most prudent thing was to close these businesses down or strictly limit their operations. And that’s how those businesses will have to stay until Jan. 4, 2021.
He didn’t take the same approach to salons and barbers. A total of 604 people said they were at their barber or beautician in the 2 weeks prior to testing positive for COVID. That’s relatively close to the other businesses he did shut down but Wolf only decided to limit their capacity to 50% under his new orders this week.
Most people – more than 40,000 – have actually told contact tracers that they didn’t visit any businesses in those 2 weeks prior to their positive test result.
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