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Air Conditioning Kills People
By Bruce of Stone Marmot
March 27, 2020
Right now, the world is focused on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. This virus is infecting a lot of people and killing a larger than normal number of those infected. Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 are also seriously disrupting many lives and economies, with many people losing jobs and the possibility a major recession or even depression starting this year.
But one big hope is that the number of infections will drop as the temperature warms. Most similar viruses have significantly shorter lifespans outside of a host when the temperature and humidity are higher. That is one reason that cases of colds and the flu tend to peak in the winter time. A big reason people develop fevers when they have colds or the flu is their body naturally trying to kill these viruses with elevated body temperature. And there are some very preliminary indications that this is also true for COVID-19, though this virus is so new that there really isn't enough data to confirm this.
So, will we see a significant drop in COVID-19 cases as the temperature warms in the northern hemisphere towards summer? Probably not, at least not in the U. S. Why not? Because of air conditioning.
People rarely get viruses from being outdoors. They get viruses from being indoors in close proximity with other people, touching hard surfaces other people have touched, breathing the same air others have been breathing. So, even if the virus turns out to be very sensitive to higher temperatures and humidity (which, so far, has definitely not been proven), and it is 90 degrees F. and 98 % humidity outside, it really matters very little, since few people will spent much time outside. Most people will spend most of their time indoors in air conditioned buildings, where the temperatures are in the 70's degrees F. and around 50 % humidity, which is much more comfortable for people. Unfortunately, this is also much more comfortable for viruses.
A lot of people say that they would rather die than live without air conditioning. Unfortunately, this summer that may become very true. People may end up dying because they are unwilling to give up their air conditioning.
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