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Dry weather linked to COVID-19 spread, experts say

Health experts are gearing up for another surge in coronavirus cases within the next 10 days and our cool, dry weather won't help.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The dry weather that will be sticking around for the next several days could play a role in spreading the coronavirus.

"A couple studies that I've looked into seem to demonstrate up to a two-fold increase in the risk of transmission of infection for every 10% drop in humidity," said Dr. Erik Vanderlip, chief medical officer at Zoomcare.

The drier the air, the more likely the virus is to remain airborne and spread.

"When the air is less humid, there's less water to accumulate on small little droplets that float around, and so those small droplets are smaller and they can stay in the air longer," he said.

"There is a strong association between dry weather and spread of COVID," explained Dr. Richard Corsi, an internationally recognized expert on indoor air quality.

"As the relative humidity drops and as the temperature drops, it can really extend the half-life. It can keep the virus active for much much longer," he said.

In dry conditions the COVID-19 virus can remain on surfaces as much as four-times longer than in humid conditions. Using a humidifier can help.

"Try to keep the humidity up in the 50 to 60 percent range," said Corsi. "That seems to be the worst for the virus and the best for us."

The experts also point out this dry weather can dry out our airways making it easier for the virus to lodge into their linings.

So, while it might look and feel nice, this weather is also a reminder that we need to do whatever we can to limit the spread of the virus.

"We're not through this yet," said Dr. Vanderlip. "Even as restrictions are lifted this week and...with vaccines coming along…now is the time to buckle down."

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