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New study renews concerns about role of restaurants, bars in spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 numbers climb in Michigan

DETROIT – Rapidly climbing case counts of COVID-19 have led to cities and counties in several states to issue new restrictions on restaurants and bars.

READ: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 244,741; Death toll now at 7,929

A new study is renewing concerns about the role restaurants and bars may play in helping to spread COVID-19. Researchers from Stanford University studied cell phone data from 10 U.S. cities collected from March to May of this year.

The study was published in the Journal Nature and used the information to follow the movements of 98 million people. They looked at where they lingered and for how long.

READ: Interactive map shows COVID risk by event size in each Michigan county

Scientists created a computer model that predicted the spread of COVID-19 in those communities. They found full-service restaurants were the riskiest place for new infections, about four times riskier than gyms and coffee shops.

The finding was based on modeling, not contact tracing. The data was collected before many precautions were put in place at restaurants.

The bottom line is the more places you go, more people you see and the longer your stay -- the higher your risk.

READ: Top Henry Ford Health doctor worried about Michigan COVID-19 deaths rising in near future


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