According to data reported to the National Outbreak Reporting System at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), norovirus outbreaks declined by over 80 percent between April to July of 2020, as compared to the same date range in previous years. COVID-19 related control measures like social distancing, mask-wearing, surface disinfection, and increased hand hygiene might be primarily responsible for this decrease, according to recent research by the CDC in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. These measures also may have reduced the incidents of influenza in the U.S. and other countries, as significant drops in illnesses and deaths in the U.S. have been observed during the pandemic.
Every year, almost 60 percent of all foodborne-related illness can be traced to norovirus, with most outbreaks occurring in foodservice settings like restaurants, as the virus can live on surfaces for weeks there. Outbreaks may result in serious illness for both employees and customers, and can carry significant financial and public confidence implications for the establishments. A single foodborne incident can cause a restaurant thousands of dollars, or even millions if there are legal fees, lawsuits, and fines.