Waiting for Warmer Weather Is NOT an Adequate Response To Coronavirus

Photo: World Health Organization

The spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 in the U.S. is increasingly being predicted by medical and public health experts, but the advent of warmer weather cannot be counted on to stem the virus’ spread, as has been claimed by the President and some of his followers.  Experts in the medical community and at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been clear that there is no clear consensus on what will happen once spring arrives, but it is not expected to entirely halt the virus, and in fact, studies have shown that in the humid tropics, similar viruses like the common flu can thrive at any time of the year.

Why This Matters:  With coronavirus fear spreading even before it reaches the U.S. in a major way, as health professionals warn is inevitable, it is important to clear up any confusion about the illness and how it spreads and when it can be expected to let up. Credible information is being provided by government agencies like the CDC on their “FAQs” page, not the White House, unfortunately.  Anyone who has ever had a summer cold (i.e., everyone) knows that the seasonal nature of these viruses is all relative.  And one thing is for certain, the President and his economic advisors don’t have “superior” information to the public health experts in agencies like the CDC. And anything they say that diverges from those health professionals should be taken with a grain of salt as spin or wishful thinking.  The facts won’t lie, but our current leaders have repeatedly.  

Weather Wishful Thinking

When the President first claimed that the virus would magically go away in April several days ago, Factcheck.org took a closer look at the claim and here is what the experts then were saying about the President’s statement.

Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a Feb. 12 telebriefing, “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.”

Here is the relevant Q and A from the CDC web site, verbatim:

Q: Will warm weather stop the outbreak of COVID-19?

A: It is not yet known whether weather and temperature impact the spread of COVID-19. Some other viruses, like 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 other months.  At this time, it is not known whether the spread of COVID-19 will decrease when weather becomes warmer.  There is much more to learn about the transmissibility, severity, and other features associated with COVID-19 and investigations are ongoing.

One important thing I (Monica) learned from the FAQs — if someone has the virus, they should not care for their pets.  According to the CDC,  although “there have not been reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19, it is still recommended that people sick with COVID-19 limit contact with animals until more information is known about the virus.”

To Go Deeper:  To learn more about coronavirus, we also recommend First FOP Ron Klain’s new coronavirus podcast called “Epidemic” — click here to listen to the first in the series.

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