Yet, public data analyzed by ABC News appears to tell a different story. The data from states across the country suggests specific outbreak settings (including bars, gyms, restaurants, nail salons, barbershops and stores — for the full list, see graphic below in story) only accounted for a small percentage, if any, of new outbreaks after the pandemic’s initial wave in 2020.

While experts believe that mitigation measures such as reduced capacity, gradual reopening and mask wearing contributed to keeping outbreak numbers low, they say more could have been done to push those numbers down further and make testing and tracing more robust.

Samuel Scarpino, an assistant professor at the Network Science Institute at Northeastern University, has been tracking the public health data throughout the pandemic. He told ABC News that the outbreaks in the factories align with reports that workers were not provided with proper personal protective equipment or allowed to socially distance and denied other protections.

“What happened here is we label people as essential but don’t give them the resources that they need,” Scarpino told ABC News.


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