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Idaho Finds That Going to Bars, Not Going to Protests, Is Causing COVID-19 Spikes

Plus, high levels of arsenic were found in Whole Foods bottled water brand, and more news to start your day

A group of people toasting with bottles of beer at a pub. Photo: Kzenon/Shutterstock

Crowded bars contribute more to coronavirus spread than protests and vigils do

Demonstrations and bar visits — in Ada County, Idaho, two kinds of outings that illustrate how drastically different SARS-CoV-2 transmission can look in contrasting environments across the United States.

There was no spike of COVID-19 cases associated with a June 2 vigil of 5,000 people, who gathered in front of the Idaho Capitol in honor of black Americans killed by police or vigilante violence, the Idaho Press reported last week. The vigil took place outside, the majority of attendees wore face masks, and few people spoke outside of preselected speakers. All of these factors can contribute to lower transmission of viral droplets. Protests in which people shout may pose higher risk of transmission, but attendees of those demonstrations also tend to wear masks.

Contrast that with the conditions at crowded bars: speaking and drinking in close quarters, fewer masks, and inhibitions lowered by alcohol can all create a more effective path for virus transmission. In Ada County, a cluster of 69 coronavirus cases was linked to people who visited bars mostly located in downtown Boise, according to the Idaho Press.

Idaho’s Central District Health announced on Monday that Boise and the larger Ada County, which moved to the final stage of reopening on June 13, will be reverting to the previous stage of reopening, following a spike in coronavirus cases. As part of that return to the previous stage, bars and nightclubs will be closed.

And in other news…

  • A Baltimore restaurant group has apologized to a Black woman and her 9-year-old son for unequally enforcing a dress code, refusing to seat the son because of his clothes while allowing a similarly dressed white child to be served with his family. [Washington Post]
  • Bagged salads sold at Aldi, Hy-Vee, and Jewel-Osco stores are potentially linked to a multistate outbreak of Cyclospora infections. [Detroit Free Press]
  • A test of bottled water brands found that Starkey Spring Water, a bottled water made by Whole Foods, has arsenic levels that are nearly three times the level of other brands tested. [Consumer Reports]
  • Reopening a restaurant equipped with all the necessary protective and safety investments comes with a high price tag. [NRN]
  • Starbucks has added a plant-based breakfast sandwich made with Impossible sausage to its menu. “I think people are increasingly aware plant-based products are going to completely replace the animal-based products in the food world within the next 15 years,” CEO Pat Brown told CNBC following the partnership launch. [CNBC]
  • The big question: As states reopen, where can people safely and reliably pee with many restaurants and other toilet-having businesses out of commission? [Vice]
  • Well I guess that’s one way to try to prevent viral droplet transmission between dining parties:

All AM Intel Coverage [E]

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