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Health expert: COVID-19 surge could be on the way as winter approaches

Coronavirus in Kansas

People wait in line for the opening of a 24-hour, walk-up COVID-19 vaccination clinic hosted by the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium at Temple University’s Liacouras Center in Philadelphia, Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Efforts to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 have been stymied by a series of winter storms and outages in parts of the country not used to extreme cold weather, and hobbled transportation hubs and highways. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) — With a dip in temperatures coming this winter, some doctors are predicting an increase in coronavirus cases.

Kansas health experts are also weighing in on the potential for a spike in cases. Dr. Gianfranco Pezzino, senior fellow at the Kansas Health Institute, told the Kansas Capitol Bureau health leaders are still monitoring how the virus reacts to certain conditions, but cooler temperatures can create the perfect environment for viruses to spread.

“We know, for example, influenza virus reproduces better in colder temperatures,” Dr. Pezzino said. “Many of these viruses, like influenza and coronavirus, enter through our nose, and our throat, and our mouth. When it’s severe cold, the defense that we have in those areas of the body are not as good.”

Dr. Pezzino said the limited defense of the immune system, along with behavioral changes during the holidays can lead to an increased risk of infection. With less restrictions and more people spending time inside, where it’s harder for air to circulate, he said it’s important for people to weigh their own risk. This is something he said is important to keep in mind, especially during the holiday season.

“Last year, we were encouraging people to stay home, to rethink their travel plans, to only attend small gatherings,” he said. “This year, we are saying these things have value. Now’s not the time to be reckless, but knowing what we are getting into in terms of situation, or the social environment around us, and then deciding if it’s a calculated risk we want to take or not.”

Pezzino said the safest way to gather during the winter months is making sure you get vaccinated, and interacting with others who are vaccinated as well.

For more information on coronavirus vaccines, click here.

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