Why Experts Still Warn Against Indoor Eating, Even As SF Advances To The Orange Level


Even as the indoor dining room expanded in the Bay Area and San Francisco entered the orange tier on Tuesday, local infectious disease experts still warn that the activity poses some risk even to fully vaccinated people. One expert said he was even more concerned now than when the indoor dining room started opening in early March.

The Chronicle interviewed three health experts about risk levels for vaccinated people interested in eating indoors two weeks ago. While they did not agree on all the details, they all cautioned that some vaccinated people may not be worth the risk of dining indoors, particularly those who are older with pre-existing health conditions; Vaccinated people may still get sick or spread the disease. viruses to others.

Now, the same health experts say that despite the reopening of more restaurants and gunfire, they recommend being just as cautious or even more cautious with eating indoors. This is because the coronavirus is still circulating in the Bay Area alongside more contagious variants, leading some experts to warn of a possible fourth increase. Meanwhile, data from the California Department of Public Health found that restaurants accounted for 7% of coronavirus outbreaks in the state so far in 2021, the second most common setting behind residential care facilities.

“No one should be dining inside, vaccinated or not, right now,” John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley, said by email. “Spending an extended period of time indoors with a group of strangers with everyone talking loudly is a perfect way to spread this virus.”



Swartzberg said he feels more strongly about the dangers of eating indoors now because of troubling variants – B117, which was first reported in the UK, will likely be the dominant strain in about two weeks. It is believed to be 50% more transmissible and potentially 30% to 70% more deadly. Meanwhile, other variants, B1.351, first discovered in South Africa, and P.1, which caused a dramatic increase in Brazil, are alarming because they are somewhat resistant to antibodies produced by vaccines or natural infections. Four cases of B1.351 have been found in the Bay Area, while P.1 was detected in Southern California for the first time last week.

While cases are declining in the Bay Area, they have started to rise in another 21 states, prompting health experts to warn against easing security measures too quickly. Swartzberg also pointed to the sharp increase in cases in Western Europe, where several countries have introduced new blockades in recent days. The rate of new COVID-19 cases in Poland has more than doubled since February.

Stanford health expert Robert Siegel said he hopes people will weigh not only the risks and benefits of dining indoors, but also consider their age, personal risk factors, prevalence of the disease in the community. and how the chosen restaurant is configured in terms of Placement and ventilation of the table.

“Importantly, I don’t think we should base our decisions entirely on what color level we’re at,” he said by email. “If the virus had a choice in this matter, it would say ‘Open everything, NOW.’



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