Summer 2020 is probably not going down as one of our most memorable, at least in the traditional beach movie sense. Staying six feet apart just doesn’t lend itself to sexy summer shenanigans. It might be easier to manage the feeling of missing out that most of us are having right now if we had a cozy, social winter to look forward to. But unfortunately, experts are saying that we should be prepared for a significant uptick in coronavirus this winter.
According to a report issued yesterday by the Academy of Medical Sciences in the United Kingdom, scientists are saying that we should be prepared for a surge in cases in January and February. One of the reasons why COVID-19 may spread more easily this winter is that most of us spend more time indoors in the colder months, CNN reported. The parks and green spaces that we’ve flocked to to escape the tedium of quarantine will inevitably become less appealing when the temperatures start to drop. And experts are concerned that the mounting evidence about COVID-19 being airborne means that the indoor public spaces we share are more dangerous than they used to be.
Another complication is the fact is that we are all just generally more prone to illness in the winter months. That's when flu season peaks and colds are most widely spread. Yes, COVID-19 is different from both the common cold and influenza, but its spread could be exacerbated by many of the symptoms that come along with cold and flu, such as coughing and sneezing. Experts say that spending more time in enclosed spaces trying to keep warm with people who are coughing could create the perfect storm for novel coronavirus transmission, CNN reported. Plus, treating people may get harder as medical facilities try to treat these multiple illnesses at the same time.
But experts say that we still have time to prepare. "We've got these three months where things are getting better," Stephen Holgate, Medical Research Council clinical professor of immunopharmacology and honorary consultant physician at the University of Southampton told CNN. "This is a critical window of opportunity to help us prepare for the worst that winter can throw at us. We need to do everything we can to stay healthy this winter."
First and foremost, experts say that getting a flu shot is crucial this year. It will keep more people out of hospitals and will, hopefully, prevent the possibility of getting sick with both flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could be extremely debilitating. “I encourage the American people to be prepared and to embrace flu vaccination," Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told CNN. "This single act will save lives.”
Once winter hits, plan to wear masks in any public spaces. Wearing masks indoors in the U.K. is now mandatory, as of this morning, and NYC mayor De Blasio announced yesterday that New Yorkers should also take this precaution. Even if they aren’t mandatory, research shows that wearing masks helps curb the spread of COVID-19. Other than that, prepare to crack a window even when it snows and keep your fingers crossed for that vaccine.