I’ve always been passionate about public health. I love studying and learning about what keeps populations healthy… especially during a pandemic.
In fact, I had been in public health school at the beginning of the AIDS crisis. (I have a Master’s degree in the field.) So I learned firsthand how public behaviors can change the course of an epidemic.
So, when the novel coronavirus came on the scene, I was ready for it—at least, professionally. After all, fighting for people’s health has always been one of my top priorities as a medical professional. That’s why seeing these issues politicized hurts me to my core.
It’s also why I have been so adamant in my support of policies like mask-wearing and restrictions on indoor drinking and dining. Science should always prevail in troubled times, no matter how much we may hate the conclusion.
Yet, there’s still been a whole lot of pushback. But we’re finally starting to see some hard data on how well pandemic public health policies have worked to stop spread, hospitalizations, and death.
And while I hate to say “I told you so,” that’s exactly what I’m about to do…
Dining out is deadly
As part of a recently published report, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that states that ended restaurant dining restrictions saw spikes in daily COVID-19 cases about one to three months later. They also saw a significant increase in deaths after 60 days.
Of course, these researchers didn’t account for any differences in indoor and outdoor dining. (That’s a separate issue to consider as the weather continues to warms up again.) But they did compare infection and death rates from before and after on-premises dining was banned in most of the country last spring.
Here’s what they found:
- Daily COVID-19 cases jumped by more than a percentage point in the 60 to 100 days after states lifted their restaurant restrictions.
- COVID-19 deaths jumped by more than 2 percent between 60 and 80 days… and by 3 percent in the 81 to 100 days after restrictions ended.
I’d say that’s a pretty big sacrifice to make just to eat out. And from a public health perspective, I’d even say it’s downright selfish.
But the good news is, the same report found that statewide mask mandates were able to slow the spread of the virus within just a few weeks…
Masks save lives
Between March and December of last year, nearly three-quarters of the counties within the United States instituted mask mandates. The measure worked immediately, cutting daily COVID-19 cases by 0.5 percent in the first 20 days. After 100 days, cases dropped by nearly two percent.
Plus, within 20 days of a mask mandate, death rates dropped by 0.7 percent—then by 1 percent after 40 days, 1.4 percent after 60 days, 1.6 percent after 80 days, and nearly 2 percent after 100 days.
Not only that, but this past February, the CDC shared that state-wide mask mandates had cut hospitalizations by 5.5 percent among adults aged 18 to 64 years. And that was just within the first three weeks!
So tell me… why are we still arguing about this?! It doesn’t take a public health expert to see that now is not the time to get lazy with precautions. Even with a light at the end of this long tunnel, the speed with which we’re actually able to return to something resembling our old way of life is entirely up to us.
So for the millionth time… please wear a mask when you leave the house. It’s not a lot to ask—but it literally saves lives. Otherwise, just stay home.
And perhaps think twice before dining out at a restaurant… especially when take-out and delivery options are still so widely available. Or better yet—continue cooking healthy meals at home. (Be sure to follow my cooking demos on Instagram and YouTube!)
P.S. I also encourage you to continue supporting your immune health as we fight against this virus. That’s why I’ve outlined all of my top immune health recommendations into one convenient report, my Complete Guide to Year-Round Immunity. To learn more, click here now!
“Dining Restrictions, Mask Mandates Tied to Less Illness, Death, CDC Reaffirms.” Medscape Medical News, 03/05/21. (medscape.com/viewarticle/946991)