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Get the latest on the global Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic as it impacts Northwest Indiana, the state, country, and globe. Bookmark this page as there will be several updates each day from Lakeshore Public Radio, IPB News, NPR, and the Associated Press.

COVID-19 and Climate: Implications for Public Health

Public Radio Exchange

Human incursion into remote ecosystems can have far-reaching effects on our health and well-being. Deforestation and changes in land use, often to produce food, disrupt delicate ecological and water systems. They also facilitate new and potentially dangerous interactions between people and other organisms.

“Those are the contacts between humans and animals that keep disease biologists up at night because those are the best opportunities for spillover events to occur,” explains Brian Allan, Associate Professor of Entomology at the University of Urbana-Champaign, where he studies the ecology of infectious diseases, particularly those transmitted by the bite of infected ticks and mosquitoes.  

“You have diseases that are typically thought of as being travel associated or being associated with the tropics,” says Allan, “so I think we can expect the health system to be increasingly stressed by these types of climate-induced health problems along with everything else we’re grappling with during a pandemic like COVID-19.”

The novel coronavirus that jumped to humans from bats is highlighting how challenging it can be to manage infectious disease. The doctors and medical workers who treat COVID patients are also on the frontlines of climate health impacts.

“Health professionals are the ideal translators of scientific information,” says Barbara Gottlieb, Director of Environment and Health at Physicians for Social Responsibility, where she guides national work on climate energy and air quality.

“We're finding that treating COVID-19 is extremely difficult,” she notes, adding that “it’s gonna be more difficult or virtually impossible to treat climate change. You can't treat climate change.”

And yet in many respects, planning for pandemics and climate disruption overlap. Moreover, the kinds of conservation required to protect the biosphere would cost a fraction of the after-the-fact response to the coronavirus, and would come with immediate health dividends.

“What we need to do now is recognize we have a window of opportunity to really flatten the curve when it comes to climate change,” says Aaron Bernstein, Interim Director of The Center for Climate Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health and a pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital. 

“I just see the immense opportunity here to take actions that are both gonna provide for a healthier present, they’re gonna potentially buffer against pandemic risk, and of course they’re gonna give the future that we really want our children to have.”

Tune-in Monday, April 20 at 7 P.M.

Lakeshore Public Radio 89.1FM, initially known as The Lakeshore 89.1FM, first hit the airwaves across Northwest Indiana on January 19, 2010. The station was created after the board of directors for Lakeshore Public Media, which also operates our sister station Lakeshore PBS, saw the need for regional access to a public radio station in order to provide localized up-to-the-minute news and information for NW Indiana residents.