The coronavirus outbreak continues to ravage many cities in the U.S. And now that the summer season is here, the problem has gotten much worse for many people. That’s why many cities are coming up with strategies to fight the challenging combination of the outbreak and the hot weather.
“COVID-19 and climate change are on a collision course. There is no question that the challenges we face this summer are unprecedented,” New York City Emergency Management Department spokesperson Omar Bourne said, per WebMD.
Apparently, during the summer season when the weather is hot, city spray parks and air-conditioned cooling centers are very active and many people frequent these areas. However, the strategies that help fight off heat-related health problems are also in direct conflict with the strategies imposed to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. And so these amenities have been shut down amid the pandemic.
“Gathering in close proximity and engaging in physically strenuous behavior like running around the spray park appears to be a likely possibility for transmission,” Rochester, New York spokesperson Justin Roj said.
Across the country, public officials are looking for ways to address both heat-related problems and the risk of contracting COVID-19. But experts said that it’s going to be very tough finding the balance between preventing the spread of the deadly virus and preventing heat-related illnesses.
Due to the hot weather, people who stay outside for long periods could suffer heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. The former involves certain signs like nausea, light-headedness, fatigue, dizziness, and muscle cramping. On the other hand, heat stroke is a more serious condition that needs immediate medical attention. People who suffer heat stroke may experience headache, confusion, vomiting, rapid heart rate and even lose consciousness.
People with underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease are at a higher risk of suffering a heat stroke. Although 90% of households in the U.S. have air conditioning, access to it is not evenly distributed.
Kristie Ebi, an epidemiologist at the Global Heat Health Information Network, believes that local authorities should come up with the decision on whether or not cooling centers should be opened in their areas based on their coronavirus stats.
In Los Angeles County, cooling centers remained open especially when the temperatures spiked. However, officials required people to wear masks and they also put a limit on the number of people who could go inside the centers at a time.