President Donald Trump said Thursday evening that the spread of COVID-19 could be drastically slowed by the onset of warmer and more humid weather during a Coronavirus Task Force press briefing, citing data from the Department of Homeland Security.
William Bryan, the science and technology adviser to the secretary of DHS, presented the results of a study that showed “increased temperature, humidity and sunlight are detrimental to COVID-19 in saliva droplets on surfaces and in the air,” with the longevity of the virus on nonporous surfaces falling drastically when temperatures of 95 degrees, 80% humidity and summer sunlight are applied.
“Maybe this goes away with heat and light. It seems like that’s the case,” the president speculated. “I think a lot of people are going to go outside all of a sudden.” Trump cited the data as evidence that he was correct when he had previously suggested that warmer weather would stop the spread of the disease.
Bryan, however, was quick to say that these results were not proof that it is safe for Americans to go outdoors without practicing social distancing and other measures to protect themselves from the virus “This is another tool in the tool belt” for understanding the novel coronavirus, he said.
When asked whether it was responsible for the president to tout these results, for fear that Americans might think they are safe from the virus in warm weather and direct sunlight, the president said: “It’s just a suggestion from a brilliant lab from a very smart man. That’s all I have. I’m here to present talent and I’m here to present ideas.”
Trump also addressed a brewing fight in Congress over whether it should pass further legislation to blunt the economic impact of the pandemic, this time by providing direct aid to state and local governments.
The National Governor’s Association, a bipartisan group comprising the nation’s 50 governors, has publicly request $500 billion in direct aid to states, to help plug budget holes as sales taxes and other revenues collapse amid the economic contraction, and to support states’ efforts to stop the spread of the virus.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview with Hugh Hewitt late Wednesday that he is opposed to any direct aid to state and local governments, arguing instead that Congress should allow states to declare bankruptcy.
Trump said Thursday that aid to states will be “the next thing we’re going to be discussing,” adding that “I’ve spoken to Mitch about it, and we’re working with senators who are on the other side of the issue.”
On Thursday evening, the House passed a $484 billion bill that provides additional money for a small business lending program, along with money for hospitals and testing.