Harvard researchers think hot weather in South may contribute to COVID spread

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Harvard researchers think hot weather in the South may help contribute to the spread of COVID-19, saying the disease could linger and recirculate through air conditioning.

The study compares the coronavirus to tuberculosis, another deadly disease spread through the air.
The central question of the study is whether droplets of COVID-19 are small enough to linger in the same way as tuberculosis or if they instead settle and fall to the ground. The latter is the predominant theory right now, however a Harvard tuberculosis expert is exploring the airborne theory.

According to an article in the Harvard Gazette, “The states that, in June, are already using a lot of air conditioning because of high temperatures are also the places where there’s been greater increases in spread of COVID-19…”

Management with Choate’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Memphis say their customers are buying in to this idea and calling about one service in particular.

“It’s definitely been more noticeable people are wanting specifically something to clean their air,” assistant manager Brian Choate said.

He says business is up lately, mostly from residential homeowners.

But both he and local experts have questions about the science.

Baptist Infectious Disease Specialist Doctor Steve Threlkeld says they need to study more of how much COVID-19 droplets linger in the air.

“There are some scientists putting forth the idea, this is more airborne than we thought before,” Threlkeld said. “There’ll be a lot of discussion about that coming.”

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