If you have shopped in-store or dined out since the pandemic started, you may have likely been to one of the places on a list of outbreaks obtained by KPBS.
NBC 7 asked epidemiologist Corinne McDaniels-Davidson, Director of the SDSU Institute for Public Health, to put the list of more than a thousand outbreaks into context and explain what it may mean for San DIegans' safety.
Does an outbreak at these restaurants or places necessarily mean there have been unsafe practices?
"No. I think we need to remember that this virus is a really smart, nasty little virus. It hangs in the air. It can spread over droplets, it can spread on surfaces,' McDaniels-Davidson said.
Popular chain restaurants and big-box retailers are among the top places for outbreaks, according to the data. McDaniels-Davidson isn’t surprised.
“For me when you’re sitting down and dining, you’re at risk. You’re taking off your mask. You’re potentially interacting with people from outside of your own household,” she said.
However, it's important to point out that if you've been to one of the places listed, it doesn't mean you were exposed or that the virus was even contracted at that site.
“It means that there were three people over a two-week period who had visited that location. It doesn’t mean they were in contact with each other and it doesn’t mean that they’re still there,” McDaniels-Davidson explained.
Contact tracers, she said, interview people who have tested positive about where they’ve been for 48 hours before their test or before they developed symptoms.
“We don’t necessarily know where people contracted the virus. And unless we were doing genomic sequencing of everybody’s samples, there would really be no way to find out," she said.
What else should someone be doing in addition to the social distancing and mask wearing?
“If possible, order ahead and do the contactless pickup from the parking lot. That would be the best thing. But that still does put the employees at risk, themselves," McDaniels-Davidson said. "They’re spending a lot of time together in the stores and the breakrooms. And I think that we need to acknowledge that it’s likely that a lot of those outbreaks were between employees.”
Sharing the air with anyone outside of your household, McDaniels-Davidson said, is a risk and should be balanced against the economic impact.
According to KPBS, the overall records do show you're far more likely to be exposed to an outbreak based on your living circumstances or behavior. For example, at least 252 outbreaks occurred in nursing homes, jails, rehab facilities and shelters, and at least 30 outbreaks have occurred at religious organizations since March.
And at least 86 outbreaks happened in the Pacific Beach and Gaslamp ZIP codes, two of the county’s biggest party spots.