Coronavirus podcast: How 'viral load' can play a role in the spread of COVID-19
AccuWeather’s podcast Everything Under the Sun is exploring a series of topics related to the new coronavirus as life as we know it is upended. The podcast features experts discussing everything from how weather will play a role in the spread of COVID-19 to how to stay mentally healthy amid the pandemic.
Episode 10: How 'viral load' can play a role in the spread of COVID-19
AccuWeather Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers joined the latest episode and shared his concerns for the spread of COVID-19 and how "viral load" can play a role even as the season transitions to summer in the Northern Hemisphere. Myers also shared how science can explain how no matter what transpires, exposure to sunshine and fresh air can help to keep people healthy and safer for longer.
“If you have higher levels of D3 you are less likely to be infected, you are less likely to have a bad experience" with the new coronavirus, Myers said. "The sun probably kills the virus, but it also boosts your immunity.”
Myers drew comparisons to previous epidemics in the United States, including the the Spanish Flu outbreak from 1917-19. The first wave occurred in late winter and spring, he explained. Cases died down during the summer, but began to grow again in a second wave in the fall, he went on to say. It was "the second episode that killed five to 10 times as many people as the first,” Myers said.
This episode also feature licensed psychologist and author Dr. Erik Fisher. He offered up advice on coping with the coronavirus pandemic and how to do so from home.
Episode 9: Getting the best observation has suffered due to COVID-19
In the latest episode of Everything Under the Sun, AccuWeather’s Manager of Global Data Partnerships Matthew Alto was welcomed to the podcast to discuss how COVID-19 has impacted meteorologists' abilities to predict and observe weather.
"We've been concerned about the increasing impact that the pandemic has had on the quantity and the quality of weather observations in forecast, as well as the monitoring of the atmosphere and climate," Alto said. "Large parts of the observing system for instance satellites and many ground-based observation networks are either kind of fully or partially automized, which is really good news because they can function for a significant period of time before degradation occurs, but you know, eventually there is comes a point where those observations or those automated systems are going to need to be maintenanced and upkeep."
Alto also said the extent in which COVID-19 has impacted weather observations will likely be an unknown until the pandemic has passed.
"I think what is vitally important to acknowledge is that our knowledge and understanding as meteorologist and forecasters has not changed as a result of pandemic," Alto said.
Episode 8: How TV meteorologists work from home during COVID-19
Meteorologist Adam Joseph of WPVI, an ABC affiliate in Philadelphia, joined the podcast to discuss the impacts local TV news has experienced due to coronavirus restrictions and gave a bit of insight into how meteorologists are able to forecast from home and stay engaged with viewers.
“I have the capability of doing the forecasting behind the scenes and broadcasting on the air from my basement in my home,” said Joseph. “Whenever there is nice weather, I always say if you’re going to go outside make sure to practice social distancing.”
This episode also featured a visit from Dr. Erik Fisher who shared advice on how to cope with the pandemic while staying at home.
“It’s okay to feel stressed out … what we want to do is figure out what are the things we can do, what are the things we want to plan for and what will we do if plans still change,” said Fisher. “We have to look for ways we can take care of ourselves emotionally and socially throughout this thing because we do have a risk of this impacting people for some time, because it can feel so traumatic. Adaptation is how we are going to get through this.”
Episode 7: 2020 summer forecast and reconnecting with nature amid the pandemic
In this installment of Everything Under the Sun, AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok reflected on the recent May snowstorm in the Northeast. Pastelok also gave an extended outlook on what different U.S. regions can expect for the coming summer months and how that may impact Americans' ability to get outside during the pandemic.
“Everyone's anxious to get outside and when you have to see a snowstorm in a second week of May, it really doesn't feel good being outside,” Pastelok said. “What we saw is that the second half of the spring is ending up being much cooler, chiller. We're getting our winter type weather in the second half of spring, unfortunately.”
This episode also featured a segment with RootedNYC CEO Ryan Lee who offered up advise on how people can reconnect with nature amid coronavirus restrictions. “You're going to realize how incredible plants are…it's almost like a meditated Zen feeling you get when you take care of plants,” said Lee.
Episode 6: Bringing the outdoors in during quarantine
The newest episode explores the ways in which we can green-up the inside of our homes, to make it feel like we're outside. Indoor plant expert Mariah Greene joins the podcast to talk about her favorite ways to start indoor gardening.
"My favorite starter plant is called the ZZ plant," Greene said. "That one is I swear it can survive through anything. You can put that in a basement with very limited light and just water it once a month in that thing will, it'll just survive through absolutely any condition."
Greene also talked about the impact plants have on mental health, especially during this time of quarantine.
"For those of us with one or two plants it can actually be really beneficial for mental health, whether it's building a relationship with that plant and having something there for instant gratification and waking up and seeing a new leaf every day and then the other part of that is a lot of my clients that I worked with in the past have had a plan that used to be their mothers or fathers or someone that was really meaningful to them and their family and so having that plant is really just a nice reminder to always have," Greene said.
Episode 5: Air quality and the new coronavirus
Romain Lacombe, CEO of Plume Labs, joined the latest episode to take a closer look at air quality during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"A whole lot of us who are either working from home or have reduced the amount of time we spend outdoors, we stopped driving," he said. "So you'd expect to see pollution levels going down around the world."
Lacombe said data suggests air quality, which can also have its own impacts on the virus, has been improving since early March, before most lockdowns were enacted.
"It's hard to tell sometimes whether the drops in pollution are completely due to the level of activity that’s changed or other factors," Lacombe said.
Episode 4: The right amount of social distancing
AccuWeather's Founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers joined the fourth podcast episode to share his analysis on several coronavirus protocols, including social distancing, and whether staying six feet apart is enough to prevent infection.
"As a meteorologist who deals with the atmosphere and air movement, there's a major fallacy in using just six feet," Myers said. "So inside, indoors where there's no air movement, and if you're not moving, then six feet probably makes sense."
Myers went on to say that people should try to add more physical distance from others, closer to 25 feet in many cases, especially when outside, as the wind and air movement have an effect on the movement of droplets that can harbor infectious virus particles.
Episode 3: How big cities are dealing with the outbreak
Featuring reporters and radio personalities from major cities like New York City, Seattle and St. Louis, Missouri, the podcast's third episode, "How different areas of the country are dealing with COVID-19," explored how the virus has affected different parts of the country.
Glenn Schuck, WINS reporter and anchor from New York City, shared his concerns about the lack of social distancing in the city.
“Tuesday it was 70 degrees and sunny and Central Park was packed," Schuck said. "Thousands of people in Central Park Tuesday, and that's obviously not a good thing right now. They are staying out of the Avenues of the stores, but the parks are jammed. And it's a real concern. I mean if you know, they want to go out for Passover now this weekend and Good Friday and Easter. It's not good ... It's going to be really tough.”
Tom Joyce, the morning meteorologist on Fox Q13, weighed in with some advice to help control the further spread of the virus in the Seattle area, the first coronavirus hotspot in the country.
“[I]t is important to get out and you're allowed to leave your house. Do it responsibly, wear that mask if it merits it," Joyce said. "Definitely go out and keep those distance between you and the people around you, but you can get out and not only that but you should get out.”
Episode 2: Mental health and the new coronavirus
The second episode focused on the importance of mental health during this pandemic. Dr. Erick Fisher, a licensed psychologist, joined the podcast to talk about this issue.
“Sunshine and daylight are critical for our mental health,” said Fisher as he talked about the importance of going outside, while still practicing social distancing. “When sunlight hits our skin, our body turns that into vitamin D, which a) helps our immune system as well as b) it helps with improving mood, decreasing signs of depression, potentially mitigating some anxiety. So that outdoor sunlight, even if the clouds are out, even if it might be raining, it’s still a good idea to try to get your daily dose of sunshine."
Episode 1: Will weather have an impact on the new coronavirus?
The first episode took a look back at viruses in history and how they compare to COVID-19 with Myers, as well as key weather factors that can play a role in outbreaks and spread.
“A virus tends to like cold weather. Most colds and viruses, like the flu and so on, spread in the cold weather not just because of the way viruses work but also people are more susceptible in cold weather to get sick. Their immune system is lower and part of that is because they get less sunshine, the changes in temperature, and the lower humidity,” Myers said in the podcast.
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