WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWLP) — Originally, scientists were saying there was too little known about COVID-19 to say whether coronavirus cases will drop this summer but new lab results on how saliva droplets behave with increased sunlight, heat, and humidity were released by the White House.
Although we can’t yet make any concrete conclusions, the data could be promising for this summer.
The study was completed by the Department of Homeland Security at a U.S. Army laboratory in Fort Detrick, Maryland.
Overall, the results were simple: COVID-19 does not survive very long on surfaces and suspended in the air when it’s exposed to summer-like conditions. They used measurements of half-life or the time required for any substance to be decreased by half.
A graphic shared by William Bryan, the acting Undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, shows the half-life changed from hours to a matter of minutes on non-porous surfaces and airborne particles when exposed to increasing temperatures, humidity, and ultraviolet light.
The data isn’t all good news though. This means the virus survives the longest indoors and in dry conditions which means extensive disinfecting is still necessary. Even shaded areas outdoors could see the virus last longer than a mere few minutes. It’s this reason it’s still hard to say how dramatic of an impact the summer weather will have on the spread of COVID-19, especially since states with high heat and humidity are still seeing outbreaks.
It’s also hard to say whether we could see a significant drop in coronavirus spread due to the lack of immunity without continuing preventative measures such as wearing masks, hand washing, and social distancing.