Coronavirus could worsen death toll of summer heat waves, health officials warn

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Thousands of beachgoers enjoy a sunny day at Huntington Beach despite the state-mandated stay-at-home order on April 25, 2020. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of beachgoers enjoy a sunny day at Huntington Beach despite the state-mandated stay-at-home order on April 25, 2020. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

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As summer descends on the U.S., public health experts are warning that the coronavirus could make intense heat waves deadlier, adding to the devastating death toll the country has suffered.

High temperatures have rolled through the Southwest unusually early this year, scorching Phoenix and Las Vegas and sending droves of quarantine-weary Southern Californians to the beaches.

Even before the outbreak, the hottest parts of the country were struggling to protect their residents from summer weather that, fueled by global warming, has become increasingly dangerous. Now the COVID-19 epidemic has presented them with an added crisis — the possibility of millions of people self-isolating in homes and apartments they can’t keep cool.

This is an especially worrying possibility for the elderly and people in poor neighborhoods, where residents are more likely to live in older, less energy-efficient homes and less likely to have air conditioners.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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