From the early days of the pandemic, some leaders tossed out the idea that warm weather would reduce the risk of the coronavirus. As we enter peak-summer, that’s decidedly not the case. Could it be air conditioning?
Hot, humid weather hasn’t had much of an impact on the spread of COVID-19. While there is evidence that other viruses like colds and the flu trend downward during the summer, there was no scientific basis to think that COVID-19 would behave the same way. In fact, some of the worst-affected states in the US are experiencing the hottest temperatures in the nation, including Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, and Oklahoma.
As states across the country head back to work, there is one variable that seems to be the most consistent, and that’s HVAC systems. So, can air conditioning be spreading coronavirus?
It’s hard to make a perfect correlation, but there is data that supports the theory. Near the end of June, states that experienced early summers in the spring are now seeing some of the fast-growing rates of infection. It makes it relatively clear that warm weather does not reduce risk, but summer heat itself may not be a contributing factor to spread. Instead, the behaviors it creates could be much more impactful.
One now-famous incident in China illustrates just how much of an impact indoor airflow has on infection. The CDC released this study on one Chinese restaurant that triggered a spike in Guongzhou this past winter. It’s only a single study, but it does show how quickly airflow can spread droplets in enclosed spaces.
MSystems already released a look at how HVAC systems could affect spread, and issued a number of recommendations that could help protect people working indoors. Offices, restaurants, libraries, hospitals, and other locations that see a large group of people from different households on a day-to-day basis are especially risky. With schools scheduled to resume across the country in just a few months, experts are rushing to implement new fixtures in order to protect students and their families.
Air conditioning and, as will be the case this winter, heating will play a big role in how successfully the United States deals with the on-going pandemic and how employers plan to bring their people back to work safely.
To help, we’re offering businesses a free HVAC audit to identify how we can help you protect the health of your team. You value your people, and we’re here to do the right thing for them and their families.