By Velena Jones

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Smoky skies filled the Sacramento region Wednesday — a sign of summer wildfire season. This time it was the Dixie Fire bringing the haze.

“It’s just remarkable how far that smoke can blow in,” explained Kelly Garcia in Rancho Cordova.

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Air quality spanned from unhealthy in Fair Oaks and Sacramento — canceling Sacramento Police Department’s boot camp — to very unhealthy in Rancho Cordova, stopping softball and swimming practices.

“It’s like a daily thing for us to go out to the pool, especially because it’s so hot,” Garcia explained.

Frustrated families looking to cool off in triple-digit temperatures were met with tears from little ones hoping to take a dip in the pool.

“Air quality is bad because California is on fire again, so they closed down swim lessons,” explained Kayleigh Swetland in Rancho Cordova.

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UC Davis Infectious Disease and Pulmonary Dr. Christian Sandrock warns inhaling smoky air for too long causes irritation to your lungs and could increase your risk of COVID, among other viruses, including colds and flu.

“That destruction sort of alters our immunity and our immune system’s ability to manage infections. And then when you throw in something like the delta variant that already has the ability to evade our immune system and it puts us at increased risk,” explained Sandrock. “You just don’t have that same protection and when you do get infected it’s a little bit more damaging and irritating,” he said.

So, what’s the difference between symptoms from smoke exposure and COVID-19? The Centers for Disease Control says that, while dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing can be caused by both, fever, chills, body aches, and severe chest pain is when you need to see a doctor. Sandrock suggests that long-hauler COVID patients should avoid extreme poor air quality altogether.

“When patients have classically long-haul COVID are stressed, we see that their symptoms are exasperated. If they have chest pain, leg pain, or brain fog, those get worse for a period of time,” he explained.

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Sandrock suggests wearing a mask to help filter out damaging air particles from wildfire smoke.

Velena Jones