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TAMPA BAY AREA (CW44 News At 10) – New discoveries are being made on COVID-19 by scientists in the Tampa Bay area.

“If you look at the species of bat that this evolved in, they aren’t intelligent, they don’t know what’s going on,” Dr. Jon Thogmartin, Scientist/Medical Examiner.

Doctor Thogmartin is a local scientist with a lab dedicated to Pinellas and Pasco Counties. He serves as the Medical Examiner there studying autopsies and gathering research.

He says, over the course of the last few months, a lot has been discovered about COVID-19, like the fact that it may not be able to survive in strong sunlight.

“Virus uses RNA as its genetic material. It is a very simple machine. It does not have any skin or built in sunblock like we do. No melanin. We have DNA repair mechanisms, it has none of that. So when UVA, UVB from the sun hit it, damages its genome where it can’t reproduce,” said Dr. Thogmartin

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And research is underway to find out how long it can survive in the sun.

“The Koreans did document an outdoor transmission but I think it was only one case. It can happen, it’s just far less likely than a small room, low ceiling, poorly ventilated,” said Dr. Thogmartin.

Recently, the doctor says he was asked why Florida’s death rate was so low.

“You know, if you’re in New York City and you don’t have a lot of sun, your UV index is much lower, but now, every day I look at the UV index and I see severe and I go ‘oh that’s great, I love severe UV index’,” said Dr. Thogmartin.

And if you thought the virus was only capable of leaving a flu-like impact, think again.

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“If someone has a respiratory illness and they get this, or they have diabetes, hypertension, obesity, it’s all bad. This affects not just the lungs, this affects almost every organ in the body. Heart illnesses, blood illnesses, blood clotting, liver injury, kidney injury, neurological injury,” said Dr. Thogmartin.

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But one thing he says hasn’t changed is how to beat it.

“When the virus first arrived here in Pinellas or Tampa Bay area, we denied it host by locking down,” said Dr. Thogmartin. “This thing comes from your mouth and nose to another person’s vice versa. We have a choice, we can put space between us to deny it host or we can put material between us to deny it host.”