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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

People with and without coronavirus infections have pretty similar lifestyles, with one big difference: whether they have recently ate or drank in public, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: We all miss restaurants, bars and coffee shops. But going to these places carries extra risk, primarily because eating and drinking, by definition, cannot be done while wearing a mask.

Details: Study participants who tested positive for the coronavirus were about twice as likely as those who tested negative to have dined at restaurants in the two weeks before they got sick.

  • Restaurant dining included indoor, patio, and outdoor seating, and the question did not distinguish between indoor and outdoor options.
  • Coronavirus patients were also more likely to have visited a bar or coffee shop, but only when the analysis was limited to patients who had not had close contact with another known coronavirus patient.

The bottom line: There's still plenty of good reasons to assume that indoor dining is riskier than outdoor dining, and that dining in a crowded restaurant is worse than dining in one that is adhering to social distancing guidelines.

  • But taking off your mask around other people increases your vulnerability to the virus.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 20, 2020 - World

21 million Brits enter Christmas lockdown to fight "new variant" of virus

Boris Johnson. Photo: Matt Dunham - WPA Pool/Getty Images

About 21 million people entered full lockdown restrictions in London, southeast and eastern England and Wales Sunday to curb the spread of a highly infectious new strain of COVID-19.

For the record: The World Health Organization tweeted that it's in "close contact" with British officials on the variant, as the Dutch government introduced a ban on passenger flights from the United Kingdom, effective Sunday morning through Jan. 1, after finding a case with the same strain in the Netherlands.

Dec 19, 2020 - World

How China manipulates truth — at scale

In February, with cases rising rapidly, workers set up a makeshift hospital in a Wuhan exhibition center. Photo: Costfoto/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

China quickly, systematically and relentlessly suppressed the truth about the coronavirus from its citizens and the world, according to a detailed investigation by The New York Times and Pro Publica.

Why it matters: China is America's chief rival for world dominance — and routinely uses government-directed propaganda, lies and heavy-handed silencing to get an edge over its people and rivals.