Special Issue on Air Quality in a Changed World: Regional, Ambient, and Indoor Air Concentrations from the COVID to Post-COVID Era (II)

Hongwan Li1, Sripriya Nannu Shankar1, Chiran T. Witanachchi1, John A. Lednicky2,3, Julia C. Loeb2,3, Md. Mahbubul Alam2,3, Z. Hugh Fan4,5, Karim Mohamed5, Jessica A. Boyette1, Arantzazu Eiguren-Fernandez6, Chang-Yu Wu This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1

1 Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences, University of Florida, USA
2 Department of Environmental and Global Health, University of Florida, USA
3 Emerging Pathogens Institute, University of Florida, USA
4 Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, University of Florida, USA
5 J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Florida, USA
6 Aerosol Dynamics Inc., Berkeley, California, USA

Received: November 7, 2021
Revised: November 23, 2021
Accepted: November 30, 2021

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.210304  

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Cite this article:

Li, H., Shankar, S.N., Witanachchi, C.T., Lednicky, J.A., Loeb, J.C., Alam, M.M., Fan, Z.H., Mohamed, K., Boyette, J.A., Eiguren-Fernandez, A., Wu, C.Y. (2022). Environmental Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 in Two Restaurants from a Mid-scale City that Followed U.S. CDC Reopening Guidance. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 22, 210304. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.210304


  • We collected 16 air and 20 surface samples from two restaurants in Florida, U.S.
  • SARS-CoV-2 genomic RNA was not detected in any air samples.
  • Virus was not isolated from the surface samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.
  • The infection risk may be low in restaurants following CDC reopening guidance.


Since mask use and physical distancing are difficult to maintain when people dine indoors, restaurants are perceived as high risk for acquiring COVID-19. The air and selected environmental surfaces in two restaurants in a mid-scale city located in north central Florida that followed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reopening guidance were sampled three times from July 2020 to February 2021. Sixteen air samples were collected for 2 hours using air samplers, and 20 surface samples by using moistened swabs. The samples were analyzed by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 genomic RNA. A total of ~550 patrons dined in the restaurants during our samplings. SARS-CoV-2 genomic RNA was not detected in any of the air samples. One of the 20 surface samples (5%) was positive. That sample had been collected from a plastic tablecloth immediately after guests left the restaurant. Virus was not isolated in cell cultures inoculated with aliquots of the RT-PCR-positive sample. The likelihood that patrons and staff acquire SARS-CoV-2 infections may be low in restaurants in a mid-scale city that adopt CDC restaurant reopening guidance, such as operation at 50% capacity so that tables can be spaced at least 6 feet apart, establishment of adequate mechanical ventilation, use of a face covering except while eating or drinking, and implementation of disinfection measures.

Keywords: COVID-19, Air sampling, Surface, Hospitality, Infection risk

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