As several states face increased new COVID-19 infections and officials scramble to further mitigate the impact of the pandemic, scientists are sounding the alarm regarding previously overlooked environmental factors that could exacerbate coronavirus symptoms.
Intense dry and hot winds blowing from Africa’s Saharan deserts are on their way to the Southern United States and could bring with them sand particles mixed with potentially harmful chemical and biological elements that would be harmful to respiratory health, a core COVID-19 symptom according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those with underlying medical conditions such as lung disease, asthma, and sore throats could also experience more serious complications from the coronavirus disease as a result of these dusty winds, sparking brand new public health emergency scares.
Of additional concern is the fact that such dust could bring additional stress for those working outside even if they prove to be normal healthy individuals. That is why medical experts such as pulmonary specialist Dr. Len Horowvitz caution against taking part in outdoor activities and uphold previously public health advisories regarding the use of masks and air filters.
“…Particulate matter of this dust could contain more silica, and is a hazard to those with underlying lung conditions.”Dr. Len Horovitz, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City
Satellite images show these large swaths of dense brown Saharan dust plumes progressively nearing southern cities with Miami skies bearing the effect of this meteorological event as early as this past weekend. However, the dust is steadily moving beyond Florida with experts predicting it could reach other southern states such as Texas and Louisiana as early as Wednesday or Thursday.
Perhaps the one silver lining regarding the arrival of this dry air mass over the Gulf Coast states is the fact that it might alleviate hurricane formation in the tropics this year. Indeed, the dust these dry and hot African Saharan winds bring with them could stifle the development of tropical cyclones, which require moist air, clouds, and thunderstorms to mature.
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