JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We’re all feeling the summer heat, but the question is: How will it impact the spread of COVID-19?
In public remarks Wednesday and Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis talked about the virus spreading through Florida as people may consider participating in outside events during the holiday weekend.
“By and large, the virus does not like sunshine, heat and humidity,” DeSantis said. “I’m more concerned about people crowding into the A/C and having private parties.”
News4Jax put DeSantis’ statements through our Trust Index review.
The claim: That coronavirus “by and large” does not like sunshine, heat and humidity.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, it is not yet known whether weather and temperature affect the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like those that cause the common cold and flu, spread more during cold weather months, but that does not mean it is impossible to become sick with these viruses during warmer months.
Experts say there is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.
However, a study done by Harvard’s School of Public Health found: “While we may expect modest declines in the contagiousness of SARS-CoV-2 in warmer, wetter weather and perhaps with the closing of schools in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, it is not reasonable to expect these declines alone to slow transmission enough to make a big dent.”
Another claim: the “common cold” coronaviruses are seasonal with little transmission in the summer, so SARS-CoV-2 will be, too.
Predicting how a novel virus will behave based on how others behave is always speculative, but sometimes we have to do so when we have little else to go on. The first problem with this myth is that we don’t know whether those coronaviruses, which go by the evocative names like OC43, HKU1, 229E, and NL63, are good analogies for this virus. Still, it is worth considering the analogy especially to OC43 and HKU1, which are SARS-CoV2′s closest relatives among the seasonal coronaviruses. The other reason this is a myth is that seasonal viruses that have been in the population for a long time (like OC43 and HKU1) behave differently from viruses that are newly introduced into the population.
The World Health Organization found that exposing yourself to the sun or temperatures higher than 25°C (77 F) does not protect you from COVID-19.
You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19. To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Finally. we reached out to UF Health Jacksonville director of infection prevention Chad Neilsen.
“Heat doesn’t kill it, you can still get it at the beach and the pool especially if your mixing with a lot of people,” Neilsen said.
On the Trust Index, we are going to mark this as Be Careful.
While viruses tend not to thrive in the summer, the overwhelming majority of health publications and leaders say it is not safe to rely on heat or humidity to stop the spread of COVID-19.
To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly, social distance and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.