COVID-19 & restaurant dining

Science Update: December 23, 2020
Covering articles published December 12 – 18, 2020
Read the complete Weekly Science Review here

Dear Colleague, 

This week’s issue features our proposal for a national COVID-19 alert-level framework for the United States. An alert-level system can inform communities about the local risk of COVID-19 and empower them to stay safe. These systems must be implemented locally, taking into account the unique economic, political and social context. When implemented effectively, an alert-level system can reduce COVID-19 transmission and save lives.

This issue also explores the risk of COVID-19 transmission associated with restaurants and a review of the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test. We also explore the latest science on household transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the impacts of the vaccine on a Spring 2021 wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths and an evaluation of cloth masks to protect the wearer. 

COVID-19 has the upper hand as we see a surge in cases across the U.S.—but our future is in our hands. Vaccines are here, but they will not be available for many of us until well into 2021. Until then, we need to double down on protection protocols—as Chancellor Merkel said: patience, discipline, solidarity. When we all wear masks and take action to fight COVID-19, everyone is safer.

I hope you find this resource useful and are staying safe during the holidays and into 2021! 

All the best,


Dr. Tom Frieden
President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an Initiative of Vital Strategies

Download the Science Review PDF

*Please note there will be no Weekly Science review for two weeks. We will resume the week of January 11.* 

COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Resources

Communication with the public in advance of the phased introduction of COVID-19 vaccines is crucial to ensure that people get the right message at the right time and feel confident about their decision to get vaccinated. That is why Resolve to Save Lives created select resources, and curated a library of others, to support communicators, public health officers, health care providers and anyone else looking for support designing strategies for evidence-based COVID-19 vaccine communications. The resources will be updated regularly to provide timely guidance.  

View the resources here. 


A National COVID-19 Alert Level Framework

Alert-level systems should form a core component of effective COVID-19 preparedness and response. We propose that the United States introduce a national framework for a COVID-19 alert-level system that can be adapted and implemented locally. An alert-level system can inform communities about the local risk of COVID-19 and empower them to stay safe. If designed effectively and linked to guidance on public health and social measures appropriate for different disease transmission levels, an alert-level system can prevent a scenario where the burden of COVID-19 is so high that the most disruptive mitigation measures become necessary to relieve an overloaded health care system. An alert-level system should be built on a solid base of scientific evidence that can be applied nationally. However, alert-level systems must be implemented locally, taking into account the local economic, political and social context. When implemented effectively, an alert-level system can reduce COVID-19 transmission and save lives.

See our proposal for a national COVID-19 alert level framework here.

Restaurant Dining and COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, much information has been collected on how the virus behaves in different environments (e.g., indoor vs. outdoor). This information can be used to better assess the risk associated with different behaviors and activities and to advise the public on what steps to take to mitigate risk and what settings to avoid to minimize risk. Among the various activities and behaviors, indoor restaurant dining is often cited as a higher-risk activity. This is for a variety of reasons that come together to form what one researcher has called a merging of “core behavioral risk factors,” which lead to increased transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Read the full in-depth here. 


Our Prevent Epidemics team answers common questions that come up from new studies, media articles or emerging science. This week we are highlighting the below FAQ:

What is the Ellume COVID-19 Home Test, a new fully-at-home COVID-19 test?

You can find additional COVID-19 FAQs from the Public Health Communications Collaborative here

Article Highlight
Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
(JAMA, Dec. 14, 2020)

A recent meta-analysis of household secondary transmission of SARS-COV-2 found that 16.4% of those living with someone with COVID-19 tested positive for COVID-19. The manuscript included 54 studies covering 77,758 people, 10 of which included family rather than household contacts (17.4% of family contacts were infected with COVID-19). In the subset of studies that reported attack rates for both children and adults, adults in the household were more likely to test positive for COVID-19 (28.3%; 95% CI: 20.2 – 37.1%) compared to children (16.8%; 95% CI: 12.3 – 21.7%).

Read the complete Weekly Science Review here
News Highlights

Dr. Tom Frieden & Aaron Schwid: How to reopen the economy safely? Immunity passports. Read here

Dr. Tom Frieden joined CBS This Morning to discuss COVID-19 and immunity passports. Watch
Wake County leaders are working with Resolve to Save Lives and other partners to encourage safer holiday celebrations. Read here.
CNN highlighted Dr. Tom. Frieden’s tweet on a clear mRNA vaccine analogy. Read here.
Dr. Tom Frieden spoke with Los Angeles Times on the the need to strengthen public health in the U.S. and globally. Read here
Social Media Highlights

Dr. Tom Frieden shares his analysis of COVID-19 news and trends every week on LinkedIn, Twitter and Medium. You can find the most recent post here.

For more insights and updates, and to read this week’s Science Review, visit:
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