Restaurants and Bars Account for Less Than 2 Percent of New COVID-19 Cases in New York

During a coronavirus press briefing on Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that private gatherings account for the vast majority of new statewide cases, while less than 2 percent are coming from bars and restaurants.

Cuomo referenced a statewide contact-tracing data set, which collected information on how new cases have spread from September to November. According to the data, 74 percent of new cases have come from private social gatherings.

"The troubling information in this is that 74 percent of new cases are coming from household gatherings and living room spread," Cuomo said. "In many ways, you can understand what happened. You close bars, you close restaurants, you close theaters, you close stadiums, you close mass gatherings. So where do people go? They go home."

The rest of the risk areas were substantially lower.

At 7.8 percent, the second highest reason for the virus' spread was attributed to health care delivery, which includes any necessary service in hospitals and medical facilities across the state.

NEW: New York releases some statewide contact tracing data for the first time, breaking down the source of exposure. pic.twitter.com/mnw9imDnlw

— Jon Campbell (@JonCampbellGAN) December 11, 2020

But bars and restaurants, which have long been considered a high-risk area for the virus to spread, accounted for only 1.4 percent of new statewide cases.

Gyms, hair salons and barber shops are also very low-risk areas, each attributing for less than 1 percent of new cases.

Cuomo acknowledged that safety guidelines put in place, such as social distancing, mask requirements and capacity limits, have significantly lowered the risk of infection in these areas.

Nonetheless, the governor announced that starting Monday morning, all New York City restaurants will be shuttered for indoor dining.

nyc bar
New data shows that less than 2 percent of COVID cases in New York are coming from bars and restaurants. In this photo, a bartender works at a Manhattan restaurant on December 9, in New York City. Spencer Platt/Getty

"We have made strides on indoor dining by the restrictions we've put in place and the safety protocols we put in place. It is still an issue, but it's much better than it was," he said.

"Hospitalizations have not stabilized, and with a rising infection rate and NYC's density, this means that indoor dining is too high of a risk. Takeout, delivery and outdoor dining will continue," he added on Twitter.

According to data compiled by the New York Times, there has been a 72 percent increase in new virus cases in New York over the past week alone. By Friday morning, there have been at least 749,204 cases and 34,884 deaths in the state since the pandemic started.

Cuomo said that New York's rate of transmission is now 1.3, meaning that every infected person will infect 1.3 additional people.

"Once that number is over 1, you're in a problematic state. This is now a problematic situation," he added.

Cuomo echoed the calls of health care workers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by asking New Yorkers to stay home this holiday season.

The governor warned the next few weeks are a "natural" time for New Yorkers to get together, but given what the contact tracing data says, he said it's important that residents avoid socializing in private household gatherings.

"Small gatherings are the greatest individual issue and we believe this is going to increase over the holidays," he said.