MACON, Ga. — Months ago, scientists were optimistic that warmer temperatures could help slow the spread of coronavirus.
Instead, cases are surging in the summertime heat.
“There is a lot we don’t know, and a lot we still have to answer,” said public health microbiologist Amber Schmidtke.
Schmidtke says the sun’s rays can help weaken or kill the virus.
“We do know that all genetic material with DNA or RNA like this virus has is very susceptible to UV light damage,” said Schmidtke. “So, there was and there is still an expectation that UV light is going to work to our advantage.”
But after more research it’s clear sunlight alone won’t help slow the spread.
“We have had interesting things come to light...because of just natural human tendencies of how people come together and interact,” said Schmidtke.
For example, weeks ago some studies suggested sunlight could kill the virus on surfaces.
Now, thanks to new research, Schmidtke says it's very unlikely to catch the virus that way, shifting their focus from contaminated surfaces to respiratory droplets.
“There is some concern that there may be some airborne quality to this as well,” said Schmidtke. “ That means the virus may be aloft in the air a little longer than the individual may be to transmit the infection.”
So while the sun may help a little, scientists believe our behavior plays a bigger role.
“This virus doesn’t care that we’re tired of self-quarantining and isolation. It doesn’t care that we want to go out and do a whole lot of things. In fact, it depends on it. When we get together we give the virus a chance to spread to that next person,” said Schmidtke.
Data and information changes every day, but scientist still agree on this: wearing a mask and social distancing can help slow the spread.