The novel coronavirus has upended our lives in many ways, and we’re all desperate to lower our risk of getting COVID-19, the disease it causes.
Experts are still learning about how the virus survives and spreads, including how temperature affects that process. However, there are some things they do understand based on current data and other known viruses.
Here’s what you should know about whether certain extreme temperatures can kill the coronavirus:
Exposing yourself to the sun won’t eliminate coronavirus.
Hot temperatures ― even those above 75 degrees ― don’t have an effect on the virus, and no area of the country has less of a risk than others right now because of its climate.
“You can catch COVID-19, no matter how sunny or hot the weather is. Countries with hot weather have reported cases of COVID-19,” according to the World Health Organization. “To protect yourself, make sure you clean your hands frequently and thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.”
COVID-19 can also spread in hot and humid climates.
There’s still a question of seasonality with COVID-19. Early on in the outbreak, experts suspected the virus could be like other coronaviruses and have a shorter lifespan at higher temperatures and in higher humidity. Most illnesses have an easier time surviving and reproducing in the colder months.
But we won’t know for sure this will happen with COVID-19 until the seasons change and more research comes.
“We don’t have direct data for this virus, nor do we have direct data for a temperature-based cutoff for inactivation at this point,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The necessary temperature would also be based on the materials of the surface, the environment, etc.”
Cold weather also cannot kill coronavirus.
There also isn’t evidence that an extreme cold outside temperature will have an effect on the virus.
WHO notes that there is “no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the new coronavirus or other diseases.” Our normal body temperature typically remains around 98 degrees, give or take, regardless of the external temperature or weather.
Direct exposure to intense temperatures through other methods will also not eliminate COVID-19.
Hand dryers, hot baths, ice baths, UV lights and other related methods will likely not prevent a COVID-19 infection on their own. (The same goes for methods like dousing yourself in chlorine or alcohol sprays ― just in case that was something you were considering.)
WHO warns that attempting these methods may end up being harmful. For example, extremely hot showers can burn you, and UV radiation can cause skin irritation.
Bottom line: Practicing social distancing and good hygiene is your best option for warding off coronavirus.
The best advice for preventing COVID-19 is the advice that’s been drilled into us from the beginning: Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough and ― most importantly ― stay home. The CDC also now recommends that everyone wear a face mask in public.
Social distancing and healthy habits are the only way we’re going to flatten the curve and slow the spread of the virus. Do your part with that and you’ll help yourself and others more than you realize.
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