Published: July 24, 2020

What Happens When a Pandemic Meets a Heat Wave

Extreme summer temperatures target the same communities most vulnerable to Covid-19. Where can people go when staying indoors with air conditioning isn’t safe?

On a sweltering Sunday afternoon in North Miami, Carmen Arocho, 54, has taken her four grandchildren to a nearby supermarket — not to get groceries but to escape the oppressive heat that’s been baking South Florida. She doesn’t like to do this often, as each trip increases the risks of them contracting the coronavirus. Miami-Dade County is currently the epicenter of the pandemic in the U.S., with local health officials reporting upwards of 2,000 new cases daily since July 1.

But with the heat index planted over 100 degrees, Arocho says she can’t keep the kids at home in the two-bedroom apartment they share with her partner and their three adult children. Their air conditioning unit is old and often freezes if it’s kept on for too long. When that happens, Arocho usually packs the family into their car with the engine idling and the AC running — sometimes even during bedtime to help the kids fall asleep. But her gas costs have been racking up. She says she hasn’t complained to her landlords about the faulty unit for fear of getting evicted.

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Source: Bloomberg CityLab

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