Will colder weather bring more COVID-19 cases? Triangle Epidemiologist weigh in


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With COVID cases declining, many people across North Carolina are feeling a sense of relief, but in some parts of the country, cases are rising – including in northern states where the weather is cooler. So, what does that mean for our late fall and winter?

We took that question to Pia MacDonald, an infectious disease epidemiologist with RTI International. 

“Although the trends are really in a good place right now, at least in North Carolina, it’s important to understand that with November and December approaching we do not want a repeat of what happened last year,” she said. 

As temperatures drop and people spend more time inside together, COVID can spread. Last winter, North Carolina saw cases spike. They rose again late in the summer due to the Delta variant. While our cases are now declining, some northern states like Minnesota and Michigan are seeing an increase.

“This is most likely their Delta wave,” said MacDonald.

She said it’s a good idea to get your booster shot if you’re eligible and be aware of the COVID situation if you’re taking a trip. “It’s really important to understand what the transmission levels are in communities where we live as well as the communities were going to be traveling to and from,” she noted. 

Darryl Byrd is planning to visit family for the holidays. “We’re definitely vaccinated; we will be following all the mask mandates,” he said. “Do what we have to do in order to be safe.”

Although we may see another increase in cases as the weather gets colder, more people begin to travel and gather indoors, MacDonald is hopeful this winter will be better than last.

“We will be absolutely better off than last year because we just did not have enough people vaccinated when that surge happened,” she said. “At least in the states that have higher uptake of vaccinations, we won’t see those very high number of people going to the hospital and succumbing to the virus.”

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