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Coronavirus × Weather’s Impact

Daily coronavirus briefing: Global mortality rate for COVID-19 is 3.4%, WHO says

Weather and its potential impact on how COVID-19 behaves has remained a consistent focus since the outbreak erupted.

Coronavirus, officially recognized as COVID-19, took less than three months to travel around the world. After surfacing in late 2019, the virus has spread to more than 50 countries and claimed thousands of lives. After weeks of slowly spreading around the United States, the first American fatality from the virus occurred outside Seattle, Washington in King County just before the calendar flipped to March. As of Wednesday, nine deaths were blamed on the COVID-19 in the U.S., all in Washington state.

While the World Health Organization (WHO) has avoided deeming the virus a pandemic, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “This virus has pandemic potential.”

Weather and its potential impact on how COVID-19 behaves has remained a consistent focus since the outbreak erupted.

Spreading Coronavirus
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, March 3, 2020, alongside Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist and the MERS-CoV technical lead for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme. (WHO)

Hong Kong University pathology professor John Nicholls said that he suspected three factors would potentially kill the virus, according to the transcript of a private conference call in early February.

“Three things the virus does not like: 1. Sunlight, 2. Temperature, and 3. Humidity,” Nicholls said in remarks that were leaked on social media. “The virus can remain intact at 4 degrees (39 degrees Fahrenheit) or 10 degrees (50 F) … But at 30 degrees (86 degrees F) then you get inactivation.”

The CDC has cautioned that not enough is known about the virus to say for sure that weather will affect the spread, but a spokesperson said, “I’m happy to hope that it [the threat] goes down as the weather warms up.”

As experts work toward a better understanding, the world shudders in fear of the unknown, a worry that has rocked global financial markets. In what was the worst financial week since 2008 in the U.S., jitters sent the Dow Jones, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all plunging on Feb. 23. The markets rebounded a bit on Monday, March, 2, but volatility remained high through Tuesday’s trading session.

Here are the latest updates, listed in eastern time, and the most important things you need to know about coronavirus.

** March 4, 12:16 p.m.
During a press conference on Wednesday morning, officials declared a state of emergency in Los Angeles county in response to the coronavirus. This will help to open up funding from the state to combat the virus. This announcement came shortly after six new cases were reported in the county. “I want to reiterate this is not a response rooted in panic,” L.A. County supervisor Kathryn Barger said, according to The Los Angeles Times. “We need every tool at our disposal.”

** March 4, 11:29 a.m.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state has risen to six.

Cuomo said the four new cases are tied to a 50-year-old man from New Rochelle, a New York City suburb about 20 miles northeast of Manhattan in Westchester County. Officials said on Tuesday this was the second confirmed patient in the state.

The patient’s wife, two of his children and the neighbor who drove the man to the hospital are the latest confirmed to have the virus. The man remains hospitalized while his family is quarantined in their home.

On Tuesday, officials said the man, a lawyer who works in Manhattan, had not traveled to any of the countries where the number of COVID-19 cases is the highest, indicating this was a case of community spread.

Cuomo also said students with the State University of New York and the City University of New York that were studying abroad in China, Italy, Japan, Iran or South Korea were being transported home. Upon arrival they will be quarantined for 14 days.

“Remember: We have been expecting more cases & we are fully prepared,” Cuomo said. “There is no cause for undue anxiety.”

** March 4, 9:55 a.m.
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. climbed past 125 on Wednesday, with 9 fatalities blamed on the virus — all in Washington state. It’s not time to panic, but being vigilant is always wise. Here’s a reminder on what coronavirus symptoms to look out for, according to the WHO.

Fever is a symptom in 90% of COVID-19 cases

70% of cases include a dry cough as a symptom

Symptoms usually do not include a runny nose

** March 4, 9:41 a.m.
The COVID-19 global mortality rate is 3.4%, WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told reporters at a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday. “Globally, about 3.4% of reported COVID-19 cases have died. By comparison, seasonal flu generally kills far fewer than 1% of those infected,” he said.

** March 4, 9:20 a.m.
Italy’s government will close all of the country’s schools and universities from Thursday until mid-March as a result of the virus, according to a report from Italian newswire service ANSA.

Italy has reported more than 2,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the death toll in the country stands at 79. Only China, South Korea and Iran have a higher number of cases.

** March 4, 8 a.m.
After being closed for three days due to fears about the spread of COVID-19, Paris’ famed Louvre Museum reopened on Wednesday.

According to The Associated Press, museum employees voted to return to work on Wednesday after the museum’s management presented several new “anti-virus” measures. This includes wider distributions of disinfectants and more frequent staff rotations so employees can wash their hands, the AP said.

The Louvre is said to be the world’s most visited museum and in 2019 attracted more than 9.6 million visitors. The museum’s website states that about 25% of its visitors in 2019 were French, with “visitors from other countries representing almost three-quarters of total attendance.” Weather in Paris for the next week will be mostly rainy and chilly, according to the AccuWeather forecast.

** March 4, 7:42 a.m.
An Amazon employee in Seattle has tested positive for COVID-19.

“We’re supporting the affected employee who is in quarantine,” a company spokesperson told Reuters. The company also said two employees in Milan, Italy were infected and in quarantine.

In total, Washington state has 27 cases of COVID-19, the most of any state in the U.S., and all of the U.S. fatalities have occurred in Washington.

** March 4, 6:40 a.m.
Here are the latest updated numbers from around the world according to Johns Hopkins University:

Total confirmed cases: 93,455

Total deaths: 3,198

Total recovered: 50,743

Tuesday’s 2,500 new cases was the largest jump globally in new confirmed cases since Feb. 14.

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