Saturday, June 27, 2020

Your Local Restaurant Goes Viral

An analysis of 30 million Chase bank credit transactions cross-referenced with John Hopkins University's COVID-19 case tracker finds in-person restaurant spending is the single biggest financial indicator of future COVID-19 infections, period.

Higher restaurant spending appears to be linked to a faster spread of the coronavirus, according to a JPMorgan study.

Analyst Jesse Edgerton analyzed data from 30 million Chase credit and debit cardholders and from Johns Hopkins University’s case tracker. He found that increased restaurant spending in a state predicted a rise in new infections there three weeks later.

He also said restaurant spending was the strongest predictor across all categories of card spending.
The United States set a record for the single highest day of new infections on Wednesday. States in the South and West, including California, Texas and Florida, are seeing a surge of new cases and hospitalizations related to the virus.

According to the research note, Louisiana, West Virginia and Arizona showed the smallest relative declines in restaurant spending by Chase cardholders compared with the year-earlier period, while the District of Columbia and Massachusetts saw the sharpest drops.

Edgerton said in-person restaurant spending was “particularly predictive.”

The NPD Group found that transactions for the week ended June 14 were still improving at full-service chain restaurants in Arizona, California and Florida, even as those states reported spikes in new cases. The full-service segment was hardest hit by dining room closures and has taken the longest to recover.

In other words, the more people go out to eat or to party at bars as states reopen their economies, the more people are getting sick.

Restaurants and bars should have never reopened for in-person seating, period. Not as early as they did in nearly all states.  Now we're in the middle of record numbers of new COVID-19 infections and they are skyrocketing, with more than 40,000 new cases on Friday, the first time we've crossed that number.

It will only get worse over the next couple of weeks.

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