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As Americans Try to Beat Summer Heat, Experts Warn AC May Spread COVID: 'Could Blow It Farther Than 6 Feet'

07-22-2020
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Heat

Extreme heat is endangering people along the entire East Coast with some areas feeling as hot as 110 degrees.

In Virginia Beach, VA the sweltering heat has tourists battling the sun and scorching sand as part of a weeklong heatwave across the country.

"The ocean is the best solution to this right now," said Demi Snyder, a tourist from Boston. "I'm very excited to get into the water. It's been very bad. I've gotten sunburnt but the water's been the best relief so far."

Fourteen-year-old Gavin Duffy and his parents are vacationing at the beach from Ohio.

"We're trying to do vacation and it's really hot here," said Duffy. "It's hard when we're just sweating all the time."

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"We just want to get away, get out of the heat for a little bit, go down enjoy the waves and the water," said Richmond's Shawn Turner. "We have plenty of water, just gonna swim for a little bit."

Along the East Coast, high heat and humidity have made it feel well over 100 degrees in several cities. Philadelphia's heat index reached 105 degrees while Washington, DC recently felt like 108 and New Jersey like 110.

On Monday, officials in the nation's capital activated a heat emergency, temporarily pausing outdoor public COVID-19 testing sites.

Heat advisories are also up for parts of the Carolinas and up into the Mid-Atlantic affecting nearly 70 million people.

Weather forecasters urged people to be cautious. "Slow down, reduce your level of activity, hydrate, try and stay inside in the air conditioning," said AccuWeather's Mark Mancuso.

Some warn that the use of AC could help COVID-19 spread.

"If it's blowing the virus in a specific pattern, and you're downwind of somebody indoors, then it could blow it farther than six feet," said Dr. Donald Milton, an aerobiologist at the University of Maryland.

With temperatures across the country skyrocketing, infectious disease doctors encourage people to open doors and windows and run the fan mode for a few hours before and after visitors. 

Experts also suggest people replace existing air conditioning filters with a compatible one that removes the most particles, especially as extreme heat is expected for the Southwest later this week where temperatures could reach triple digits.  

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