clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

COVID-19 fact-checker: No, cold weather does not affect coronavirus’ spread outdoors

Scientists say the real concern about winter is that people stay indoors more — potentially in more crowded spaces, where the virus can spread more easily.

Rain and snow might dilute traces of the virus on benches or other outside objects, but fomite transmission — from surfaces — isn’t believed to be much of a contributor to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rain and snow might dilute traces of the virus on benches or other outside objects, but fomite transmission — from surfaces — isn’t believed to be much of a contributor to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peter Hamlin / AP

Does cold weather affect the spread of the coronavirus outside? Not the weather — but potentially the way it keeps people indoors.

The World Health Organization says the virus can be transmitted in any kind of weather and that there is no reason to believe cold weather can kill it.

The United Nations’ health agency says the virus is spread mainly from person to person.

Rain and snow might dilute traces of the virus on benches or other outside objects, but fomite transmission — from surfaces — isn’t believed to be much of a contributor to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scientists say the real concern about winter is that people stay indoors more — potentially in more crowded spaces, where the virus can spread more easily.

Studies have shown that a significant percentage of spread happens within households when someone who’s infected shares common areas like kitchens and bathrooms with family members or others.

Experts also say that transmission happens more easily in indoor spaces with poor ventilation because the virus can be spread in the air, and infectious particles might remain suspended in the air for several hours.

Super-spreader events have been traced to nightclubs, gyms and even choir practices. The coronavirus is not transmitted as often outdoors because fresh air disperses the virus particles, and people are more easily able to keep their distance from others. But experts caution that spread is still possible if people spend extended periods of time outdoors close to others without wearing masks.

Health experts say the best way to stop transmission of the virus is to wear a mask in public, stay at least six feet away from people not in your household and frequently wash your hands.