The rainy season is here. But this year it is different. Unlike the seasons before, it feels different, ah yes, the coronavirus. The virus that is keeping us all, or should be all, at home.
While watching the downpour yesterday in my little corner of the world I got to thinking, does the rain wash away the virus? Is there even an answer to my question?
As I learned browsing the Internet, yes and no. Not what I was looking for. Thought by now there would be some definitive answer to my question, but alas.
My search started with the obvious, the CDC, the know-it-all of everything there is to know about, well you, stuff like diseases and their prevention. Unfortunately, its website on “Water and Coronavirus” didn’t help much with this question. It was focused more on drinking water, wastewater, and recreational facilities, such as pools, hot tubs, spas, and water play.
My search found Dr. Jennifer Horney, a scientist and founder of the University of Delaware’s Epidemiology Department, who told WBOC.com, way back in March, that she didn’t think rainfall would wash away or any role in slowing the spread of COVID-19.
We do wash our hands with water, but soap is an important factor in breaking down the virus. This Vox article explains how you’re not just washing viruses down the drain, but “How soap absolutely annihilates the coronavirus”.
Rain likely has some dilution and cleansing effect on surfaces as suggested in the video, but the rainwater, by itself, is not effective at destroying the virus.
Times’ “All your questions answered” explained that scientists don’t yet know how much of the virus you have to be exposed to in order to be infected, it’s unclear whether the rain would have on viruses living on surfaces.
I am not sure I answered the question I asked, however, I do understand now a bit more about the virus and rainfall and that you still need to wash your hands and still maintain social distancing even when it is raining.
It probably doesn’t totally wash the virus away, even during a Costa Rican rainy season downpour, but it probably dilutes it – making it harder to get. But that is speculation.