Coronavirus update: Connecticut study finds restaurants are top source of COVID-19 clusters

Connecticut coronavirus update
CONNECTICUT (WABC) -- Cases of the novel coronavirus are surging in Connecticut, where about 80% of the state's population is now living under "red alert" status. And now, the state Department of Health is releasing results of a study investigating where COVID-19 is spreading.

Health officials are keeping track of "epidemiologically-linked clusters" and then categorizing them by setting of exposure, and restaurants, workplace, home, and places of worship were the top four locations.

Officials say when it came to restaurants as the top spreaders, nearly all of those cases were among workers. It's also worth noting that healthcare settings and institutions of higher learning were not included in the report.

"We are asking more questions about where people have been and trying to collect more information on venues, but in particular, where the outbreak team is focused on his work," said Dr. Lynn Sosa, with the Department of Public Health.

Related: Connecticut unveils new COVID app

The health department looked at 69 different clusters, and contact tracing revealed restaurants were responsible for 20 of them. Workspaces were second with 14, and home spaces were blamed for 12.

Members of the Restaurant Association said they would like to do a deeper dive into the data to see exactly where it is being spread inside the restaurants.

"Employees are everything," Executive Director Scott Dolch told ABC affiliate WTNH. "The risks that they take, going down the road every day, and that's where we start with, and that's where it seems like the information is that related."

Related: Video surfaces of off-campus party near University of Connecticut

Dolch says he believes the patrons are safe dining indoors, which is the only thing keeping many restaurants afloat right now.

"The last thing I ever want is for us to take any more steps backwards as an industry, because we know we have already lost more than 600 food establishments in our state already," he said. "They have either closed permanently or are closed without a date for reopening."

At the bottom of the list was childcare, which was one of the least places the virus was transmitted.

The number of people hospitalized in the state has doubled in the last two weeks.

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