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Photo: Getty Images

The wildfires raging in the West are obviously horrendous on their own, but they're also raising the risk of further coronavirus spread, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: It's harder for people to take appropriate coronavirus precautions when they're being forced from their homes, or when the air quality is as bad as it is.

  • Thousands of Oregonians are staying at evacuation shelters, where they're allowed to sleep without masks. Other people have evacuated and are staying with friends and family, increasing household mingling.
  • Testing sites from Los Angeles to northern Washington have been forced to close due to smoke from the fires. County officials in Northern California are pressing the state to allow indoor dining at restaurants because of the poor air quality.
  • Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, told the WSJ that smoke also makes it easier for people to become infected by the virus by irritating the lining of their throats and making it "easier for the virus to land."

What they're saying: "We’re telling people to stay home, stay inside, close the windows” to maintain decent air quality, Jennifer Vines, health officer for Multnomah County, Oregon, told the Journal. "That goes against so much of our Covid messaging about good ventilation and taking activities outside to lower the risk of spread."

Go deeper

Dec 24, 2020 - Health

Mexico becomes first Latin American country to vaccinate against COVID

A nurse was the first person in Mexico to receive the vcaccine. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty

Mexico became the first Latin American country to begin coronavirus vaccinations, amid a surge in cases, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The serum arrives as Mexico's hospitals reach a breaking point. The country tallies over 1.3 million COVID-19 cases and 120,000 deaths, per John Hopkins University data, though actual numbers are believed to be much higher.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
Dec 23, 2020 - Health

Why Americans will demand to be able to prove they're vaccinated

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

You've received a coronavirus vaccination — but can you prove it? The answer to that question will help determine how the global economy functions for the next few years.

Why it matters: The federal government will probably neither mandate nor encourage digital immunity passports or other proofs of vaccination. But privately-operated digital certificates are already being developed — and U.S. law means that anybody who gets vaccinated here should be able to obtain the proof they need.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.