COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is rapidly spreading throughout the world and causing significant panic. Many of us are justifiably concerned, and while planning ahead for things like summer camp and vacations, it's worth finding out if warm weather will stop coronavirus in the same way it does the flu.
For as much as we know about COVID-19, what we don't know could fill libraries. It is a type of zoonotic disease (like SARS and Ebola) that spreads from animals to humans. These diseases are so difficult because humans do not have a natural immunity to them, noted New Scientist. With new cases popping up all over the United States, and six confirmed U.S. deaths as of this publication, it's natural to wonder where this is going to go. Dr. Rishi Desai, the chief medical officer of Osmosis and a former epidemic intelligence service officer in the Division of Viral Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells Romper, "There is seasonality around coronaviruses, but it’s not as predictable as flu. With regard to general coronavirus seasonality, the peak months in the U.S. are December through March, and that's thought to be related to the cooler/dryer environment."
However, it's not so straightforward with COVID-19. "If COVID-19 transmits less in the community in the summer months (a big if), there's still a risk that it will raise its head again at the end of the year," Desai says. "In other words, once the disease becomes endemic, it can settle down for a while and then rear up again." Not to mention the fact that seasonality isn't constant. It's hemispheric. Meaning that it's summer right now in Australia, Argentina, etc., but winter up here. Because of this, Desai notes that "may allow for ongoing transmission."
The truth of the matter is that we simply don't know enough to say how this disease will behave. What we do know is what everyone has told you your whole life — wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. Don't touch your face. Disinfect your phone and remotes, keyboards and surfaces at work and home — they're grosser than you think. No, the flu shot won't protect you from COVID-19, but you should still get the flu shot.
The CDC reports that the symptoms are fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you think you have been exposed, call your primary doctor, and they can direct you further. If you don't have a primary doctor, call the local urgent care or emergency room. Call before you go — there are protocols that must be followed to make sure that you don't inadvertently expose more people.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here, and Bustle’s constantly updated, general “what to know about coronavirus” here.