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Wildfires Increase Risks of COVID

Photo/Twitter user @Cooptastic

A recent article from the New York Times describes the increasing threat of summer wildfires and the risk to COVID patients. As with many local natural disasters, the impacts from them are exacerbated by climate change and compound in unexpected ways.

According to the article, particulate matter from wildfire smoke can prohibit the hairlike cilia in our lungs from cleaning and clearing out viruses. Your immune system can become overwhelmed by smoke particles, causing it to be less effective in fending off other attacks, such as from viruses. Both smoke and COVID impact the respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Modeling the smoke event in Seattle from the summer of 2018 in an editorial for the American Journal of Public Health, doctors suggested that if the same episode had occurred in the spring of 2020, the number of deaths from COVID could have been 10 percent higher.

Breckenridge has been lucky in recent years, but the Peak 2 Fire is fresh in our minds. Summit County has a stage 1 fire ban which means no open outdoor fires. More details on the fire ban can be found here. Remember, wearing a mask protects each other from the spread of coronovirus, but it could also help block particulates from wildfire smoke. Stay vigilant out there.

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