Action Alert: New COVID Study + GRA Talking Points

Posted By: Sarah Thorson COVID-19 , GRA Blog , Industry News , GRA News , Public Health ,
MESSAGE FROM THE CEO
A COVID-19 study conducted by Stanford/Northwestern Universities was released earlier this week. We have been analyzing the study and are pleased to provide you with an official statement to use with local officials, as well as, talking points to help you respond. If you would prefer to refer media inquiries to us, we will gladly assist you.
 
The Georgia Restaurant Association continues to call for health data, not assumptions, to inform our response to COVID-19. Unfortunately, when information (like the assumptions from Stanford/Northwestern study) are taken out of context and promoted, we confuse the public and miss critical opportunities to implement evidence-based strategies that will bend the curve. We’re eight months into this pandemic and the stakes are simply too high for our public health and economy to continue to let sensational news headlines — rather than proven health data — drive our collective efforts to combat COVID-19. Restaurants will continue to implement all of the evidence-based strategies health experts advise so we can provide a safe alternative to the unregulated, in-home gatherings that we know are helping to driving the spread of COVID-19.
 
As always, we are here for you and remain committed to our role of protecting and advancing Georgia's restaurant industry. Reach out if you need additional support. 
Karen Bremer, CAE
CEO | Georgia Restaurant Association
GRA Talking Points
  • The recent Stanford/Northwestern study rightfully concludes that disadvantage groups are experiencing worse outcomes from COVID-19 and that policymakers should address this disparate impact. However, the Georgia Restaurant Association (GRA) has very serious concerns about the research methodology and the conclusions it drives regarding the risk of reopening different businesses, including restaurants.
For example:
  • The Stanford/Northwestern study is a computer model that predicts trends based on location data. This is very different than doctors and epidemiologists studying actual cases of COVID-19. In fact, when you read the fine print of the study, the authors admit they relied on assumptions about risk rather than contact tracing data, which would have been better.
  • In addition, the study focuses on what it calls “non-residential location visits,” but we know a significant source of COVID-19 spread is home gatherings. Just this week, the CDC published guidelines stating, “small household gatherings are an important contributor to the rise in COVID-19 cases.” How can a model that discounts this significant source of spread be reliable?
 
  • Also, the study seemingly ignores factors that scientists tell us are critical to reducing transmission, including compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols like social distancing, wearing a mask, and increased sanitation, and precautions many restaurants are taking to mitigate risk in enclosed spaces like installing plexiglass barriers, improving air circulation, and serving people outside.
 
  • Finally, the timeline of the study is concerning because it relies on data collected from March 1 - May 2, 2020. Georgia required restaurant dining rooms to close completely for almost half of this period, and since then, much has changed, including many local governments enacting mask mandates.
 
  • The Georgia Restaurant Association continues to call for health data, not assumptions, to inform our collective response to COVID-19.
 
  • Restaurants will continue to implement all of the evidence-based strategies doctors advise so we can provide a safe alternative to the unregulated, in home gatherings that we know are driving the spread of COVID-19.