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PA Department of Health releases information on COVID-19 case investigations, including some data on bars and restaurants

The Wolf administration started asking COVID-19 positive patients what they did in the 14 days before they started getting symptoms of the virus.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Department of Health is now providing data related to COVID-19 cases that may trackback to places like bars and restaurants. 

Back on July 15th, the Governor added some new restrictions to mitigate the spread to COVID-19. 

That included: 

  • All nightclubs or bars that don’t serve food must close

  • Restaurants will be limited to 25 percent capacity inside

  • Alcohol will only be served with meals, at tables (meaning no bar service)

  • All indoor events will be limited to 25 people

  • Outdoor events remain limited to 250 people

Now, the Department of Health is now providing data on the number of individuals who responded to case investigators that they spent time at business establishments (restaurants, bars, gym/fitness center, salon/barbershop) and at mass gatherings 14 days prior to the onset of symptoms.

The following data is from a news release from the Governor's office:

Of the 24,468 positive cases reported between July 13 and August 11, less than half of the individuals provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment. Of those who did provide an answer, 13 percent, or 1,499 answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:

Of the 24,468 positive cases reported between July 13 and August 11, less than half of the individuals provided an answer to the question as to whether they spent time at a business establishment. Of those who did provide an answer, 13 percent, or 1,499 answered yes, they visited a business establishment 14 days prior to onset of symptoms:

  • 47 percent of those who said yes reported going to a restaurant;
  • 24 percent of those who said yes reported going to a bar;
  • 19 percent of those who said yes reported going to some other business establishment;
  • 10 percent of those who said yes reported going to a gym/fitness center; and
  • 9 percent of those who said yes reported going to a salon/barbershop.

Of the 24,468 cases, 52 percent answered the question as to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event. Of the 52 percent, nearly 12 percent (1,648) answered yes to whether they attended a mass gathering or other large event 14 days prior to onset of symptoms.

Case investigator notes included frequent mentions of visits to bars and restaurants among positive case. To better understand this emerging trend, on July 13, contact tracers began asking more specific questions on types of businesses visited and if individuals attended a mass gathering, defined as more than 250 people in attendance outdoors or more than 25 indoors.

The numbers above highlight business settings and mass gatherings as possible sites for transmission. With approximately half of those asked about what types of businesses they visited or if they attended a mass gathering responding to the question, the department is reminding Pennsylvanians that it is essential that people answer the phone when case investigators call and to provide full and complete information to these clinical professionals.