Having been exposed to high levels of fire and smoke pollution in the fall of 2020, many believe that higher numbers of COVID infection rates and death counts could have been related.
According to a recent report from Axios, “Research has shown that smoke can have dangerous health impacts, a correlation that is putting more and more at risk as the pandemic collides with the climate crisis.” The research done took a sampling from more than 90 counties across California and the state of Washington that got hit hard by wildfires last year. What they found was that nearly 20% of all COVID cases and infections in certain areas were linked to elevated levels of wildfire smoke and pollution.
In some counties, an even higher percentage of COVID deaths could be associated with wildfire smoke. Their models accounted for other variables, including weather, population and general COVID trends, to control for factors that might influence the findings. This would account for the lack of clear data to show that wildfire smoke directly increases your chances of getting infected.
“Scientists who study air quality say it is possible that smoke particles could carry the virus,” the Washington Post writes. “There are also other possible dynamics involved, such as people tending to gather indoors to avoid wildfire smoke, which could lead to more interaction with infected people.”