Scientists are unsure of coronavirus effects at the beach

Elwanda Tulloch

Kim Prather, a leading atmospheric chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, wants to yell out her window at every surfer, runner, and biker she spots along the San Diego coast.

“I wouldn’t go in the water if you paid me $1 million right now,” she said.

The beach, in her estimation, is one of the most dangerous places to be these days, as the novel coronavirus marches silently across California.

Many beachgoers know they can suffer skin rashes, stomach illness and serious ear and respiratory infections if they go into the water within three days of a heavy rain, because of bacteria and pathogens washing off roads and into the ocean. Raw or poorly treated sewage entering the ocean also poses major health risks.

Prather fears that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, could enter coastal waters in similar ways and transfer back into the air along the coast.

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