Summer heat not slowing COVID-19 spread


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — At the beginning of the pandemic doctors and scientists alike thought the summer heat may slow, maybe even stop, the spread of COVID-19.

“We first thought influenza virus, COVID virus, both respiratory viruses,” explained infectious disease Dr. William Schaffner, “Perhaps COVID would behave like the flu. The flu kinda goes away during the summer and comes back in the fall and the winter.”

That hope is shattered with COVID-19 cases spiking as a relentless heatwave bakes parts of the country.

“Well, COVID is a new virus in people and it didn’t read the textbook. It’s decided not to do it. It’s out there spreading despite the fact that everything is hot and humid,” said Schaffner.

The seasonal virus pattern is a phenomenon doctors don’t quite understand and not only when it comes to COVID-19.

“For all of the science that’s gone into influenza,” said Schaffner, “We really don’t have a clear idea why influenza, in the temperate climates, are so seasonal because it’s distinctly seasonal.”

And without understanding why the two viruses act differently, Dr. Schaffner believes there’s really only one thing we can do. “We have to take each one and deal with it separately and do that best we can.”

And for some their best must be better said Schaffner, “There are still many people I know, outside of Nashville, who are not wearing their masks at all. And, that’s unfortunate.”

Schaffner attributes the spike in cases to the number of people congregating while taking in the summer sun without social distancing.

“We’ve put the heat issue off to the side. This is all because we’ve opened up rather in a carefree fashion rather than a careful fashion,” said Schaffner.

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