Respiratory Viruses Like COVID-19 Replicate Easier During Cold Temps, Doc Says

NBC7 spoke with a Dr. Paul Schalch Lepe, an Otolaryngologist or expert of the ear, nose or throat, about factors this time of the year could add to a brewing perfect storm.

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A local doctor has a message for the public: the change in weather and the uptick in coronavirus cases and some other respiratory illnesses is no coincidence.

Dr. Paul Schalch Lepe, an Otolaryngologist or expert of the ear, nose and throat, said there are some factors this time of the year that could make for a perfect storm.

“The ability, mostly viruses particularly of the respiratory kind, they have an easier time replicating when the temperatures are lower,” said Dr. Schalch Lepe.

Schalch Lepe said people spend more time indoors and the cooler temps affect us on a microscopic level, specifically the cilia.

“Little tiny sort of hair-like structures in the nose that tend to clear the particles and filter them out. The production of mucus as well which serves as a barrier in a way, protecting our airway,” said Schalch Lepe.

Schalch Lepe said there are a few factors behind the countries string of single-day COVID-19 case records, like pandemic burnout and Halloween.

“It’s a combination of changing weather, changing behavior. Again, staying more indoors, closer contact with people,” said Schalch Lepe.

With more holidays that bring people together, he's already seeing and expecting more patients to come down with symptoms that make it difficult to differentiate between the flu, the cold or COVID-19.

“Honestly, it’s on a case-by-case basis, we try to piece out what might make that patient perhaps more likely to have COVID versus having something else,” said Schalch Lepe.

So what can we do? Schalch Lepe said the basics, like social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks, are necessary. The waves of new cases are reported at a delay, usually following events like Halloween.

“But if we know how we behave today, if we are disciplined today and we manage to bring the numbers down then we can ease the stress that will come later to our system,” said Schalch Lepe.

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