NEW YORK -- A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that Americans who tested positive for COVID-19 were twice as likely to report having dined at a restaurant within the last 14 days.
Researchers surveyed symptomatic patients at 11 U.S. health care facilities for the study and linked a possible increased risk of infection to dining out.
"Eating and drinking on-site at locations that offer such options might be important risk factors associated with [coronavirus] infection," researchers wrote.
Dr. Kiva Fisher, lead author of the CDC study, told ABC News that "exposures and activities that make it difficult to wear masks and maintain social distancing, including going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking, may be a risk factor for COVID-19."
Fisher suggested that both customers and employees implement "protective steps to reduce potential exposures to COVID-19 during on-site eating and drinking" such as "encouraging employees who are sick to stay home, requiring frequent employee hand-washing, requiring masks and offering options for delivery and pick-up."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, addressed the study during an interview with CNN Friday, saying Americans should not completely rule out dining at restaurants but should avoid establishments filled at 100% capacity.
"If I were in a zone that was a zone with significant amount of infection, I would be very concerned about going to a crowded restaurant because the data speak for themselves. Those are where you find the hot spots of infection," he said.
And during an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Fauci expressed concerns over New York City and Miami reopening indoor dining.
"If you go indoors in a restaurant, whatever capacity, 25, 50%, or what have you, indoors absolutely increases the risk," he said.
ABC News contributed to this report.