Top infectious disease specialists at UCLA and across the country say the coronavirus' ability to spread through sneezing and coughing could be hampered by Southern California's typically sunny climate.
"In cooler, drier climates the virus can travel further. It doesn't fall to the ground as quickly," says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner of UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health. Klausner's team tracks the spread of infectious diseases worldwide, including the novel coronavirus.
Professor Klausner showed the I-Team charts he and his fellow researchers are updating daily in his office, which show most cases of novel coronavirus are in areas with cold winter climates, including China, northern Italy, and South Korea.
Local news from across Southern California
Forty six to 48 degrees is optimal for the spread of the coronavirus droplets, from sneezes or coughs, says Klausner.
Klausner's observation about the benefit of Southern California's weather on the outbreak is backed by the Global Virus Network, a team of internationally known virologists. According to novel coronavirus research just published by GVN, "it appears that the virus has a harder time spreading between people in warmer, tropical climates."
The GVN's latest computer model shows how the novel coronavirus has been concentrated along a narrow corridor where winter temperatures are cooler, including Washington state.
Klausner says people in Southern California should not assume the coronavirus will spread as fast and wide as in those chilly climates.
"I don't think it's inevitable," says Klausner. "Every epidemic is local, so you need to track each specific outbreak to really understand what's happening locally."
Klausner adds there's no epidemiological evidence yet to suggest that COVID-19 is spreading through the general community in the Los Angeles area.
As of Thursday evening, the total cases in Los Angeles County had reached 32.
"In a population, of a county of 10 million," says Klausner. "It's extremely, extremely low."