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Why This Matters: President Trump is again playing politics with science and the weather — bending the facts to fit his desired narrative that both the U.S. and China having it all under control when it comes to controlling the spread of the virus and that it is safe to make drastic cuts to government research on diseases like this one. And while Presidents should not fuel public alarm, they also need to be careful not to minimize the risks to the public much less promise a “miracle cure.” Public health officials absolutely need to plan for the worst — that the outbreak drags on regardless of the weather. And now, because the President’s claims strain credulity they have become fodder for politics. On Friday, Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg aired an ad on Twitter that ridiculed the President’s statements on the virus — further politicizing the issue. Like with the weather maps, once the President starts to use events like this for his own political purposes, our collective faith in government diminishes — to our detriment.
Why Are Some Viruses Seasonal?
Scientists do not really know why some viruses spread more rapidly in colder weather. According to Factcheck.org, “Severalstudies have found that absolute humidity, in particular, may be especially important in driving some of these effects. Absolute humidity, Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch explained, is essentially the amount of moisture in the air. ‘This is always low when it’s cold because cold air can’t hold much water or it will start to rain,’ he said in an email” to the organization. They also surmise that other seasonal factors could include the school calendar or indoor crowding, as well as changes in a person’s immune system.
The best case possible, according to one expert, is that “[b]oth containment efforts and a change in weather could help slow the outbreak.” However, Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a recent telebriefing cautioned, “I would caution overinterpreting” the idea that warmer weather would “weaken” the virus. Noting that the agency has had less than six weeks of experience with the outbreak, she said, “I’m happy to hope that it goes down as the weather warms up, but I think it’s premature to assume that. And we’re certainly not using that to sit back and expect it to go away.”
by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer You may have thought the days of lead, mercury, and even radioactive makeup were long gone, but a new study from the University of Notre Dame has found that over half the cosmetics sold in the U.S. contain PFAS, a class of chemicals linked to health conditions like cancer and reduced birth weights. […]
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer The Weather Channel broadcast that this summer, the U.S will be a “tick time-bomb,” in that ticks will afflict much broader swathes of the country than in years previous. Even in dry states like California, which is in a historic drought, researchers have been seeing more ticks than ever, […]
Greenways are bike paths that often serve as multi-use, car-free ways to navigate a city. Right now, the U.S. network “comprises a similarly haphazard collection of park-like bicycle- and pedestrian-oriented paths,” as CityLab reports, but that could change if environmental and transportation advocates can land $10 billion for a Greenway Stimulus in the infrastructure deal being negotiated in Congress right now.
Why This Matters: Getting people out of cars and into other modes of getting around is one of the best ways to ramp down carbon emissions in the transportation sector as well as ramp up health and fitness.
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