Wildfire smoke leads to new Covid-19 concerns

As several wildfires continues to burn across our state, the threat of wildfire smoke is leading to new concerns with COVID-19.  

Local health officials are telling everyone to be prepared as wildfire smoke may create additional risks for people with COVID-19 and worsen symptoms.  

“Poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke may make it even harder for people to fight COVID-19 since both have the potential to affect the lungs, and other overlapping parts of the immune system,” said King County Health officials. 

While the air quality in western Washington is good right now, smoke from fires in eastern Washington and Canada can travel hundreds of miles, affecting the Puget Sound area’s air quality.  

King County health officials recommend filtering the air in your home to reduce risks to COVID-19 as well as smoke.  

They also recommend having a place to go should you and your family have to evacuate because public spaces that usually serve as clean air shelters during wildfires may not be open, or they'll have lower capacity this year.  

“We don’t know if we’ll be able to provide smoke shelters this year because of the shelter in place orders and not wanting to convene large groups of people so we’re asking folks to plan ahead,” said Shirlee Tan, a King County Public Health toxicologist.  

“If people don’t have an H-VAC system in their home then we are asking people try to create a clean air room in their home.” 

Clean air rooms involve using a portable filter, closing your windows, and using an AC or fan. For more information on how to create one click here.  

There is currently a statewide burn ban in effect through September for 12 million acres of land managed by the Department of Natural Resources.