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How a ‘Heat Dome’ Forms—and Why This One Is So Perilous
As a massive, intense heat wave settles over the continental US, experts worry that the COVID-19 pandemic will strain health care resources. Linda Rudolph, senior adviser at the Public Health Institute comments on the special threat to low-income communities who already face greater COVID risks.
A “heat dome,” a persistent and/or strong high-pressure system that occurs during the warm season, is settling over much of the U.S., and experts fear that the heat and the COVID-19 pandemic are exacerbating long-standing and deadly inequities that will only get deadlier.
This won’t be the last heat dome, or the most severe one. With climate change, the conditions are ripe for these hot weather systems to perpetuate themselves.
Now with the current pandemic, escaping the heat is more challenging. Cooling centers, where folks without air-conditioning can go to chill, are shuttered. Public pools, too. Skyrocketing evictions could mean more people are forced onto the street, completely exposed to the heat. Even among those who do have an air conditioner at home, people may have lost their jobs thanks to the Covid-19 economic slump and now can’t afford to pay their utility bills.
According to Linda Rudolph, a senior adviser at the Public Health Institute, a nonprofit that promotes health equity, things will be worse for residents of low-income communities.
“Low-income groups and communities of color are more likely to be located in urban heat islands...These are also communities that have a higher underlying baseline prevalence of the illnesses that make people more susceptible to severe heat illness. And those are the same illnesses that make people more susceptible to severe Covid outcomes—obesity, diabetes, respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease."
-Linda Rudolph, senior adviser, Public Health Institute
Click below to read the full article in Wired.
Originally published by Wired