The news is in: We could be looking at a nasty winter. Experts have been working hard to track and predict the impact of this coming winter on COVID-19, and the majority of their findings paint an alarming picture. Johns Hopkins Research will soon be publishing the latest on the pandemic, which predicts some devastating changes up ahead. Here’s what we know so far.
Many of us found ourselves slowly letting our guards down as the summer months progressed. Spikes still occurred here and there, but overall, COVID cases appeared to be down and sliding lower in a hopeful way. The United States started opening back up, and CNN even reported that a number of states had made the bold move to reopen public schools.
While people in the U.S. were enjoying the relative calm, researchers like Dr. Adam Kaplin of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine were studying trends in other parts of the world to help us determine what might happen here. Kaplin’s research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, examines the relationship between the seasons and COVID transmission rates in 50 different countries.
The patterns show a very clear correlation, one that should serve as a warning to all of us: Start stocking up now, just in case. Quarantines could be coming to an area near you very soon and they may be even more severe and restrictive than the last.
Other peer-reviewed publications, such as a study recently released in the Annual Review of Virology, offer similar predictions. The researchers compare the effects of weather on seasonal respiratory illnesses, SARS-CoV (the coronavirus responsible for the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic) and SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19).
They found temperature and humidity had serious effects on the virus’ viability, with cooler, drier air making it easier for COVID and similar viruses to persist and spread. Another study found SARS-CoV-2 does best in temperatures between 21.7 and 58.1 degrees Fahrenheit. If these studies are accurate, winter could hit us with a sudden and devastating surge in COVID-19 cases — and even as we write this, hospitals are seeing record numbers again and many are reaching their breaking points. We are far from finished with this pandemic and things have the potential to get a lot worse for a little while.
The pandemic could be gearing up all across the country, so prepare now to stay ahead of the panic. Stock up on essentials, making sure to leave enough items on the shelves for everyone else who may need them, and take precautions while you’re out to stay as safe as possible. Masks save lives, including possibly your own, so please mask up. The upcoming months could be difficult but let's stay hopeful and put our energy into taking care of one another and preparing to stay safe.
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