Doctors say cold weather brings number of problems in combating COVID-19 as cases continue to surge

NOW: Doctors say cold weather brings number of problems in combating COVID-19 as cases continue to surge

MILWAUKEE COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Stepping outside, you can already feel fall weather is now here, and with a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state, doctors say the cold air brings a number of problems in combating the virus.

As it gets colder, more people will be taking their gathering indoors, and doctors say COVID-19 is much easier spread inside than it is outdoors.

“The cold weather coming is very concerning, I think that’s one of the most concerning things on the horizon right now,” said Dr. Ben Weston, medical director at the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Dr. Weston says more indoor gatherings means more spread.

“Is much easier to transmit indoors because it’s not open air, the virus isn’t blowing around and getting circulated out of your air space,” he added.

“I think we got to remember that even though we’re hearty souls and in Wisconsin and in the upper Midwest, the worsening weather has to force us indoors,” said Darren Rausch, health director for the Greenfield Health Department.

Indoor gatherings are just one reason doctors say the cold weather isn’t doing us any favors, they say virus particles are also much easier spread in colder, dryer air.

“We’ve seen that with influenza viruses-- and some studies are showing it’s similar with coronavirus,” said Dr. Weston.

A study by the American Society of Microbiology suggests the ideal temperature of the flu virus to spread is 41-degrees Fahrenheit.

“There are a lot of factors that certainly make the cold air much more dangerous for COVID-19 as we go into fall and then winter season,” added Dr. Weston.

“If we continue to meet in groups but then we move into the house or we move into the garag, it certainly adds closeness and a higher level of disease transmission,” says Rausch.

Doctors say cold weather also plays a part in mental health. Every month, Milwaukee County has seen increased instances of crisis calls including suicide attempts and overdoses, and there are no signs of it slowing down.

“It does not appear to be slowing down, unfortunately,” said Dr. Weston. “We know that in the winter it’s harder to get out and socialize, it’s harder to be around other people, so it’s something to be much more aware of.”

Rausch says the results we see today are based on our actions, he says it’s not too late to help slow the spread this fall by keeping a small circle, washing your hands, masking up and physical distancing.

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