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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

CDC to cut guidance on quarantine period for coronavirus exposure

A health care worker oversees cars as people arrive to get tested for coronavirus at a testing site in Arlington, Virginia, on Tuesday. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The CDC will soon shorten its guidance for quarantine periods following exposure to COVID-19, AP reported Tuesday and Axios can confirm.

Why it matters: Quarantine helps prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which can occur before a person knows they're sick or if they're infected without feeling any symptoms. The current recommended period to stay home if exposed to the virus is 14 days. The CDC plans to amend this to 10 days or seven with a negative test, an official told Axios.

  • The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dec 1, 2020 - Health

"Every Mother Counts" founder: Midwives need more resources during the pandemic

Axios' Niala Boodho and Christy Turlington Burns.

Midwives and doulas need more support from states to ensure safer births for women , as hospitals increasingly become overwhelmed during the coronavirus pandemic, "Every Mother Counts" founder Christy Turlington Burns said on Tuesday at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: More mothers die in the U.S. from complications during pregnancy than in any other developed country, according to a recent Commonwealth Fund analysis, as well as past reporting by NPR and ProPublica.

Bipartisan group of lawmakers unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.