Higher spending in restaurants has been linked to a surge in new coronavirus cases three weeks later, as hard-hit states backpedal on their reopening plans to try to bring record daily infections under control.
A new graph from JP Morgan, which analyzed data from 30 million Chase credit and debit cardholders and from the Johns Hopkins University’s case tally, shows connections between spending patterns and the spread of the deadly virus.
The stark new research found that a surge in restaurant spending appears to be a predictor of a surge in infections there three weeks later.
The ‘level of spending in restaurants three weeks ago was the strongest predictor of the rise in new virus cases over the subsequent three weeks,’ wrote analyst Jesse Edgerton.
Higher spending in restaurants has been linked to a surge in new coronavirus cases three weeks later, a new graph from JP Morgan reveals
Arizona, Louisiana and West Virginia recorded the smallest declines in restaurant spending compared with the same time last year – and the two former states are now recording surges in new infections.
By contrast, the District of Columbia and Massachusetts witnessed the sharpest drops in spending in restaurants – where cases have been on a steady decline.
‘Card-present’ restaurant transactions are ‘particularly predictive’ of the virus spread, researchers said, because this indicates when people are dining at restaurants rather than ordering online for home delivery or pickup.
Conversely, increased spending at supermarkets was linked to a slower spread of the virus.
The research found three weeks ago, supermarket spending was up 20 percent or more from last year’s levels in New York and New Jersey, where state lockdowns rumbled on and marked progress was made, with cases, deaths and hospitalizations all continuing to decline.
Meanwhile in Texas and Arizona – where reopening plans began early May and restaurants reopened – supermarket spending was up less than 10 percent.
People outdoor dining in a Miami, Florida, restaurant this week where cases continue to rise
Diners enjoy music and outdoor dining in San Antonio, Texas, at the end of May after the state relaxed lockdown rules
The data suggests states that buy more groceries are more committed to social distancing with people opting to cook at home rather than dining out.
‘High levels of supermarket spending are indicative of more careful social distancing in a state,’ Edgerton wrote.
According to the data, restaurant spending is the strongest predictor of new cases across all categories of credit and debit card spending.
The National Restaurant Association said in a statement to DailyMail.com that the surge in COVID-19 cases across the US is a ‘concern’ but insisted newly reopened restaurants are following guidelines to ensure they can operate safely.
‘We share the nation’s concern over the rising COVID-19 cases. It is irresponsible to pin the rise on a single industry,’ the statement read.
‘Restaurants have historically operated with highly regulated safety protocols based on the FDA’s Food Code and now have taken new steps to meet social distancing guidelines required by state and federal officials.
‘We all have responsibility for wearing masks, washing hands, and social distancing.’
JP Morgan researchers said there are other shared characteristics among states witnessing a surge in cases aside from restaurant spending.
Fears that reopened restaurants could be linked to a surge in cases comes as the number of infections across the US rose by nearly 40,000 on Thursday – marking the largest single-day increase since the pandemic started and sparking fears that the worse is yet to come for America.
Deaths from COVID-19 are inching closer to 125,000 and states in the South and West are hitting record levels of cases and hospitalizations.
Texas witnessed one of the biggest increases in new cases in the US after reporting a record 5,996 on Thursday and more than 17,000 confirmed new cases in the last three days.
The state has seen a record number of hospitalizations for 13 straight days.
Governor Abbott announced Friday that reopening plans are being rolled back in the state including shuttering the state’s bars Friday and scaling back restaurant dining rooms to 50 percent capacity from Monday.
Florida officials also announced Friday that alcohol consumption at bars across the state is now prohibited as daily infections soared to nearly 9,000 – shattering the daily tolls from the previous two days.
Arizona, Louisiana and West Virginia recorded the smallest declines in restaurant spending compared with the same time last year – and the two former states are now recording surges in new infections, JP Morgan research found. Pictured outdoor dining in Austin, Texas
‘Card-present’ restaurant transactions are ‘particularly predictive’ of the virus spread, researchers said, because this indicates when people are dining at restaurants rather than ordering online for home delivery or pickup. Pictured people dining at a restaurant in Fort Lauderdale
The state has reported 8,942 new coronavirus cases, which is up from the previous record for a single-day increase of 5,508 cases on Wednesday.
In total, the state has reported 122,960 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 3,366 coronavirus-related deaths.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, is also telling residents to stay home and on Thursday declared the state’s reopening plans are ‘on pause’ as hospitals accelerate toward capacity.
The number of infections in Arizona surged again on Thursday with just over 3,000 new cases reported.
In Arizona, 23 percent of tests conducted over the past seven days have been positive, nearly triple the national average.
There are currently 4,400 people hospitalized in the state with coronavirus and 1,400 of those are in ICU beds. A record 415 patients are on ventilators in the state.
Arizona is nearing hospital bed capacity with 88 percent of ICU beds occupied as of Thursday.
Ducey had resisted pressure to close restaurants as the virus first spread back in March, saying the state wasn’t seeing explosive growth like New York and didn’t need to act so aggressively.
The Democratic mayors of Phoenix, Tucson, Flagstaff and elsewhere imposed their own restrictions.
The governor then responded with an executive order closing restaurants in counties with known coronavirus infections but also defining some businesses cities couldn’t restrict, including golf courses.
Last week, under extreme pressure to act as COVID-19 cases soar, Ducey gave local leaders the power to require masks, while avoiding making it a statewide mandate.
The numbers ‘continue to go in the wrong direction,’ Ducey said on Thursday.
California Governor Gavin Newsom has also warned of another potential lockdown due to surging cases in his state.
He said he would only shut down businesses again if the health care system became seriously strained.
In California, 5,349 new cases were reported on Thursday – down from the record 7,100 new cases a day earlier.
Hospitalizations have also reached record highs across the state with about 1,500 suspected or confirmed patients requiring intensive care.