Weather and COVID

Isn’t it possible that a larger number of deaths in cold states and a lower number in warm states have to do with weather and not with anybody’s personality?

19 thoughts on “Weather and COVID”

  1. I’m just going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it is because “humans” in the colder north have been “ignoring the current ecological crisis” more than people in the warmer south and so are getting their just desserts.

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  2. Most respiratory viruses are less prevalent in warmer weather and there was a lot of talk about that about a month ago with the idea that summer would give us a bit of a break from COVID-19. Then there was a whole round of stories saying that that wasn’t going to be the case for COVID-19, but none of them really explained why it would be different than with other viruses of the same type. Clearly no one has had a chance to properly research it, but it seems likely that it would behave like the others.

    Interestingly, one of the reasons for the lower prevalence in warm weather is that many people spend less time indoors in close contact with other people. It’s some small scale social distancing that happens naturally when the weather gets better.

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  3. God totally likes people in FL better than the rest of y’all…

    Also: well of course. There’s a reason flu dies down with the arrival of summer. Every year. I have been watching death rates for FL closely, and they were doubling every third day. But for the last week, it looks like someone’s standing on the brakes. Going on six days without doubling. I am extremely skeptical about our predicted April 21-22 peak. I wonder if we are there already.

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    1. “God totally likes people in FL better…”

      So lucky for you!

      Currently, it’s 4 degrees Celsius here with wind gusts up to 50 kph. Godforsaken country, yup. (Well, it should warm up by mid-June at the latest…)

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      1. Bless your heart! I lived in Boston several years, and I do not miss the snow, or waiting for the bus before daylight in subzero temps, or ice on the sidewalks…

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        1. When I hear words “subzero temps and ice,” I feel extremely nostalgic. I’d be happiest if I never saw the sun. Sunlight depresses me.

          But I love Florida as a vacation destination. We go twice a year, in normal times.

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          1. “I feel extremely nostalgic…”

            Plenty of snow and ice to go around in the true north – pretty much pick any month from October to May and there would be no need to pine. In fact, there was wet snow here for 3+ hours today. I worked in the tropics for a couple of years when I was younger; never, ever felt nostalgic for winter, not once, not even a little bit.

            I’m still puzzling over the suggestion that “God totally likes people in FL better…” Can that really be true??

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              1. …But FL’s deaths-per-million-population for COVID have been quite low, particularly given how many urban areas we have, and how much tourism, and how very, very many old people. It may, perhaps, have something to do with the climate.

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  4. Respectfully, no. Germany is very cold compared to Spain. Yet Germany has 115k cases, 2.5k deaths, 46k recovered as compared to Spain 152k cases, 15k deaths, 52k recovered. Italy is also much warmer, with, again, a horrifying death rate.

    Climate is certainly a factor in everything from transmission distances, social practices (ie congregating in small heated rooms at close quarters) that affect infection rates, secondary infections etc but the fact that Germany is doing so well compared to the much warmer Spain, and quite warm Italy that is also equipped with an excellent medical system lends itself to the idea that climate cannot be the sole determining factor.

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    1. Northern Italy, which was hard hit, is not that far from southern Germany and it’s not that much warmer. I just searched average high temperatures for February for a couple of cities Berlin and Munich 40 F, Cologne 44 F, Bergamo and Venice 48 F, Madrid 53 F. Compare to Orlando and Miami where the average February temperature is 75 F.

      There’s definitely more than weather involved, but that’s not an enormous difference for Germany and northern Italy.

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      1. I don’t think comparisons between countries make sense because the healthcare systems are do different. The German healthcare is the second best in the world. Italy’s healthcare is the second worst in Western Europe.

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      2. Respectfully, I did not say “Southern Germany”. I said “Germany”. Also respectfully, the statement that you made in the sentence “that’s not an enormous difference for Germany and northern Italy” is quite difficult to defend from a medical perspective with the necessary references etc. In point of fact, the difference may be enormous, though we almost certainly don’t have the data to say otherwise.

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    2. “Germany is very cold compared to Spain… Italy is also much warmer…”

      Perhaps picking nits, but in early spring there’s not as much difference as one might think. For the last two weeks, average temperatures in Berlin, Madrid, and Rome were 8C, 11C and 13C respectively – for the full month of March, 6C, 12C and 12C.

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      1. I would think the climate/disease relationship is probably more complicated than simply how far north, or how cold? Like, is it strictly temperature that matters, or does UV exposure play into it too? If that is the case then cloud cover and elevation would also make a difference. I have heard that heat and humidity both slow down transmission of the disease, so… Florida’s a great place to be in a respiratory epidemic. 83 degrees and 95% humidity today, and from here to August it only gets hotter. I hear Spain is very warm, but also quite dry? No idea what Northern Italy is like.

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        1. You would be correct. It is multifactorial. Personally I would attribute genetics as being the major determinative factor, with Northern caucasians tolerating the virus far better than Northern Asians, though other factors are very important as well eg social behaviours like Italian kiss greetings vs handshakes. UV light is of relevance, naturally. In regards to such things as heat, humidity etc the relevant factor is drying of the viral particle. The virus will happily survive both high-ish and low-ish temperatures, but when it dries, it dies.

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          1. I’d guess that urban crowding, number of people per household, and building ventilation also play into it.

            You would think that higher humidity would lead to greater viability of viruses, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. There are some wacky outliers, but in general, viruses with a lipid coating (including influenza and SARS) survive better in drier conditions. I am not sure why this is the case, but it is. That might explain some of the wild takeoff it had in Spain, as well as the lower-than-expected numbers in FL?

            I wonder if we will see problems of higher virus transmission in places like hospitals and nursing homes, which are large, heavily air-conditioned facilities where chilly temperatures and low humidity are maintained 24/7.

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            1. “That might explain some of the wild takeoff it had in Spain…”

              There are some very localized dry areas of Spain – think spaghetti westerns – but this time of year in Madrid and Barcelona, the epicentres of the disease, relative humidity would be roughly in the London UK range.

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          2. “Personally I would attribute genetics as being the major determinative factor…”

            This part of your sentence seems as if it could have been fleshed out into a reasonable hypothesis. You might have stopped there while you were ahead.

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