Fight the Spread of COVID-19 with Humidity This Winter
In their opinion piece, experts Joseph G. Allen, Akiko Iwasaki, and Linsey C. Marr, explain why COVID-19 is going to become more of a threat in the winter and why humidity can help counter the threat. They explain that until we are all fully vaccinated, which will not occur until well into 2021, we must take proper precautions, including wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, etc.
This winter presents a challenge in minimizing the spread of COVID-19 because the dry air that moves in. In dry air, our lungs do not have as much mucous, so the cilia in our respiratory tract do not beat as quickly or in the correct direction. Thus, fewer COVID-19 virus particles are trapped and taken out of the respiratory tract. As a result, the particles can reach deep into our lungs and cause significant damage. The dry air also allows the virus to travel more easily and stay in the air for a longer period of time. Lastly, the dry air can transform the large droplets into smaller droplets that can easily travel farther and deeper into the lungs.
The experts suggest combating the threats that winter brings by striving for a relative humidity within the 40%-60% range. By increasing the humidity to this level, the mucous and cilia in our lungs can trap and remove virus particles from the lungs and throat, respectively. Secondly, while not peer-reviewed, a recent study shows that coronavirus can decay more quickly when there is a 60% relative humidity. Lastly, humid air will allow the virus-containing droplets to drop more quickly and thus, travel a shorter distance and stay in the air for less time.
One point of caution is to not achieve a relative humidity higher than 60% as this will encourage mold growth. As we remain indoors for the winter, we heat our homes, creating lower humidity inside than outside. To counter this, use portable humidifiers to increase the relative humidity inside and decrease the threats from COVID-19. However, while this step will help minimize the spread, this is not a solution to combating CVOID-19. It is important to socially distance, wear masks, and refrain from having non-household members inside your home.
Staying Healthy During the Changing Seasons
As the seasons change, holidays are celebrated, and the sun sets earlier, it can become difficult to maintain healthy habits. With the weather getting colder, going for a walk or getting up early to start your day takes extra effort. And with it getting dark earlier, seasonal depression may set in and we may feel the physical and mental health challenges that come with that. It is completely natural to have seasonal depression, but the best way to manage it is by staying active and eating healthy. Here are some tips to keep your mood up and body healthy this winter season.
COVID-19 Winter ResiliENCE TOOLKIT
- Be active physically and mentally: Regular exercise has been shown to reduce depression and help prevent it. Learn exercises for relaxation, these may include yoga, meditation, and listening to meditation apps.
- Shift your focus: Instead of dwelling on your problems, turn your perspective outside of yourself, such as do a kind act, help someone, express gratitude to others or feel awe for the world around you. Also, change your screen time habits. This will improve your physical health and emotional health. Incorporate electronic free-zones and times.
- Acknowledge shifts in holidays and traditions: Safely celebrate the holidays and plan any events well in advance so they can be outside and socially distanced.
- Stay connected: Connect with others virtually. Have a regular check-in with friends and family to provide yourself with emotional support.
- Get outside: Spending time outdoors is always good for mental health.
- Engage in self-care: Eat healthy foods, prioritize good sleep, and maintain a daily routine.
- Vitamin D3: Talk to your doctor about supplements. The daily recommendation in the US is 1,000 international units. Mushrooms and fish are also a natural source of Vitamin D.
- Plan ways to give back: Helping your community through donations and checking in on neighbors can boost morale and give you a sense of purpose.
- Light therapy: Consider using a light therapy box, which has been proven to be effective for certain individuals with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
- Call your doctor: Speak with your physician if you experience feelings of being down and having no interest in doing things you used to enjoy, especially if these symptoms are disruptive or are having thoughts of suicide.
Fitness & Healthy Recipes
Check out these great workouts you can do from home if the weather is frightening: https://www.thehealthjournals.
A key part of staying happy and healthy is eating the right foods. Lean proteins, like salmon, have amino acids and omega-3s which provide energy to fight fatigue. Dark chocolate is also a healthy alternative to milk chocolate due to the antioxidants; however, be careful to limit your sugar intake because the crash after too much sugar isn’t ideal when dealing with seasonal depression. If you want to know more about mood-boosting foods and recipes, click the links below:
Baltimore County COVID-19 Website: https://www.baltimorecountymd.
Fun Winter-Themed Indoor Activities for Kids
- Icicle Craft- Have fun creating these simple icicle crafts using just paper, glue, and salt to make icicle banners to hang up! (Source: https://innerchildfun.com/
- Free Frozen Fortune Teller-Let it go! One fold, two fold, three fold, ah-ha! Print out this free Frozen Fortune Teller and test your luck and reveal your Frozen fortune with this-ice-ellent fortune teller. (Source: https://family.disney.com/
- Penguin Printable Craft-Print out these penguin cut-out designs to allow kids to put together their own penguin crafts! (Source: https://www.ourhomemadelife.
- Snowman Crafts-Allow kids to make holiday decorations by creating a snowman using a foam cup, felt, and pom poms that families can display in their home. Kids can create another fun winter craft by making a spiral snowman mobile!
- String Cheese Snowmen-Combine snack time and craft time! Use string cheese to make these fun string cheese snowmen that kids can play and eat with.
- Polar Bear Craft-Using a cardboard tube, help kids create an adorable polar bear that they can make and play with!
Free Online Reading Resources for Kids and Families
- Unite for Literacy: Provides free digital access to picture books, narrated in many languages. (Source: https://www.uniteforliteracy.
- Storyline Online: Storyline Online is available 24 hours a day for children, parents, caregivers and educators worldwide. Each book includes supplemental curriculum developed by a credentialed elementary educator, aiming to strengthen comprehension and verbal and written skills for English-language learners.
Free Educational Game Resources for Kids
- ABCya! Learning Games and Apps for Kids: Provides educational games and activities for school-aged children such as printable coloring pages, and a variety of games. (Source: https://www.abcya.com/)
- RoomRecess- Free Learning Games for Kids Online: RoomRecess.com is dedicated to providing children with free learning games that reinforce educational skills.