Maximum Daily Temperature, Precipitation, Ultraviolet Light, and Rates of Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in the United States

Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Dec 3;71(9):2482-2487. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa681.


Background: Previous reports have suggested that transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is reduced by higher temperatures and higher humidity. We analyzed case data from the United States to investigate the effects of temperature, precipitation, and ultraviolet (UV) light on community transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

Methods: Daily reported cases of SARS-CoV-2 across the United States from 22 January 2020 to 3 April 2020 were analyzed. We used negative binomial regression modeling to determine whether daily maximum temperature, precipitation, UV index, and the incidence 5 days later were related.

Results: A maximum temperature above 52°F on a given day was associated with a lower rate of new cases at 5 days (incidence rate ratio [IRR], 0.85 [0.76, 0.96]; P = .009). Among observations with daily temperatures below 52°F, there was a significant inverse association between the maximum daily temperature and the rate of cases at 5 days (IRR, 0.98 [0.97, 0.99]; P = .001). A 1-unit higher UV index was associated with a lower rate at 5 days (IRR, 0.97 [0.95, 0.99]; P = .004). Precipitation was not associated with a greater rate of cases at 5 days (IRR, 0.98 [0.89, 1.08]; P = .65).

Conclusions: The incidence of disease declines with increasing temperature up to 52°F and is lower at warmer vs cooler temperatures. However, the association between temperature and transmission is small, and transmission is likely to remain high at warmer temperatures.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; temperature; transmission rates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • COVID-19 / transmission
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Regression Analysis
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Sunlight
  • Temperature
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Weather*