DETROIT, Mich. -- With COVID-19 continuing its surge and hospitals running out of beds, Michigan physicians today urged restaurants to help keep people safer by avoiding a rush to reopen and pausing indoor dining to minimize infections. The physicians’ call came as one Detroit-area restaurant owner, Joe Vicari, circulated a letter asking other restaurant owners to defy health department orders prohibiting indoor dining. A current Department of Health and Human Services Department order pauses indoor dining until Dec. 8.
“COVID-19 is an opportunistic pathogen always on the lookout for a human host, and prematurely reopening dining rooms while infections remain high is to serve people to the coronavirus on a silver platter,” said Dr. Ijeoma Nnodim Opara, MD FAAP, an Internal Medicine-Pediatrics physician in the city of Detroit. “All of us want people to get back to work and businesses to reopen responsibly, but Mr. Vicari’s call to reopen no matter the health risk is reckless. Data and evidence show that restaurants, bars and cafes are places with the highest likelihood for COVID-19 transmissions, and as physicians, we urge these businesses to help reduce infections by following expert scientific advice so we can all do our part to help keep people safer. Reopening restaurants while COVID-19 ravages Michigan and hospitals are running low on beds and staff will risk the lives of customers as well as countless servers, cooks, cashiers, dishwashers and their families.”
Data and research show prohibiting indoor gatherings in venues such as restaurants, bars, gyms and other locations can minimize disease spread. Around 8 of every 10 COVID-19 infections are linked to restaurants, gyms, cafes, bars and other crowded indoor venues. A separate analysis identifies locations such as restaurants and hotels as superspreader sites.
“We understand that these protections against COVID-19 can add financial stress on already strained businesses and are sympathetic, however, these businesses will suffer more devastating damage if customers and staff continue to fall ill and possibly succumb to this unpredictable infection,” said Dr. Opara. “If we don’t get this pandemic under control we are committing to never giving ourselves the chance of an economic recovery. We urge that the federal government provide interim assistance to help small businesses stay afloat without having to recklessly reopen and endanger more people.”
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that COVID-19 patients are twice as likely to report having dined at restaurants compared with people without COVID-19.
COVID-19 has killed more than 9,100 Michiganders and infected 360,000 people. Hospitals are reporting 88 percent of their beds are filled, while ICUs are 80 percent full.
About the Committee to Protect Medicare
The Committee to Protect Medicare is an advocacy organization made up of frontline doctors engaging in direct advocacy and communications in support of a stronger health care system in America. To learn more: http://committeetoprotect.org/