COVID-19 Spread Indoors
Published on November 5, 2020
According to the EPA, “There is growing evidence that this virus can remain airborne for longer times and further distances than originally thought…There is a possibility that spread of COVID-19 may also occur via airborne particles in indoor environments, in some circumstances beyond the 2 m (about 6 ft) range encouraged by social distancing recommendations.”
Scientists are currently measuring the ability of the novel coronavirus to pass from person to person in closed indoor environments. Potential airborne transmission of COVID-19 is one of the main reasons why large congregations and events have been restricted, but also why work, school environments are considered dangerous during the pandemic. Any closed space, including gyms, restaurants, bars, stores, hotels, and shopping centers can become a point of mass contagion, from what studies have shown.
COVID-19 cases are already increasing as we experience colder weather, and this trend is expected to accelerate for several reasons. As we move into the winter season, people are naturally spending more time indoors, in contact with other people, and this is not good news in times of pandemic. The dry winter air and lack of humidity caused by heating systems also boosts the risk for infection. Other respiratory infections react this way when the lining of our airways becomes dry.
Here are a few of the CDC recommendations for commercial business that are preparing to re-open following stay-at-home orders or are continuing activity through this pandemic period:
- Reduce the occupancy of staff in the building as much as possible.
- Limit the number of visitors or customers entering and occupying the space at a time.
- Increase the distance between people by spacing desks, tables, seating, and waiting areas adequately.
- Decrease the possibility of close contact between customers by directing a single flow of movement throughout the space.
- Erect clear dividers to protect employees who have face-to-face contact with others.
- Stagger work shifts and break times to decrease the number of staff in common areas during otherwise high-traffic periods.
- Provide physical or visible dividers for employees working in the same room.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least once daily.
- Encourage proper hand washing.
Importance of Increasing Outdoor Air Circulation During COVID
Experts say that COVID is primarily transmitted indoors and the risk of infection increases when space is limited and ventilation is poor. Without adequate air circulation in enclosed spaces, coronavirus particles can linger in the indoor air for a longer period. And the longer it remains airborne, the more people have the possibility of encountering the virus.
One crucial way businesses and public offices can prevent and limit the spread of COVID is to increase the amount of natural ventilation from the outside. By simply keeping windows and doors open, the indoor air quality improves. The CDC also advises the use of fans to increase outdoor air dilution.
Preventing COVID Through Indoor Air Ventilation
There are some steps that businesses can take to help make enclosed spaces safer this winter.
- Have your HVAC system checked to make sure that it is running properly and that air flow is adequate.
- Follow recommendations by a certified HVAC tech on how to increase ventilation in the building. This may include using economizer settings to pull in more outdoor air, disabling demand-control ventilation settings, and increasing the humidity levels.
- Create a strategic airflow in the building by adjusting zone supply and exhaust flow rates.
- Run the heating system with a maximum outside airflow for about two hours before and after the building is occupied.
- Verify proper duct output and air balancing to all the occupied areas of the building.
- Replace old furnace filters and consider upgrading to a high-quality HVAC filter to increase filtration as much as possible without inhibiting airflow.
- Consider using a portable air purification system to increase indoor air quality.
- Ask a technician to check that restroom exhaust fans function normally.
Indoor Air Purification Solution
AQM has been assisting local companies in making their buildings safer during the pandemic. One of the best solutions for commercial spaces is the Air Scrubber Plus® by Aerus. It is a portable, ionized purification system that effectively eliminate viruses and contaminants from the air. It has been shown to clear away almost all harmful contaminants from enclosed spaces, cleaning air ducts, furniture, equipment, doorknobs and every surface that people touch.
“Kill Rate of 99.98% of SARS-CoV-2 Virus with ActivePure® Technology… Extensive laboratory testing verifies that ActivePure is the most powerful air purification system available to the public,” according to the manufacturer.
Installing an Air Scrubber system is a fairly easy way to get rid of airborne particles and make the building safer for your employees and customers. AQM is a licensed distributor; contact us for more information about purchasing and installation.
Learn more about this Air Purification System.
Frequently Asked Questions about COVID & Air Ventilation
- Should I use fans and air conditioning during the COVID-19 pandemic?
You don’t need to avoid the use of air conditioning, but reduce the reliance on air recirculation. Fans and HVAC systems that are used to increase air quality and augment the natural circulation of air from the outdoors is favorable.
- How can heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems alleviate COVID-19?
An HVAC system that is running well can reduce the spread of viruses and pathogens in enclosed spaces by increasing the rate of air change, decreasing recirculation of air, and boosting airflow from outside. With a high-quality HVAC filter and the addition of an air purification system, the heating and cooling system can be used to decrease the risk of contracting COVID indoors.
- Is COVID-19 Airborne?
Scientists have shown that the coronavirus can survive in the air for as long as three hours. It can spread when an infected person exhales, sneezes, or coughs particles or droplets into the air that is then inhaled by other people. Though research has yet to provide a clear understanding of how often airborne transmission occurs and how big of a factor it is in the ongoing pandemic.
- How is COVID-19 Transmitted in the Air, and Should Ventilation be Mandated in Public Places?
The coronavirus can be spread by airborne particles and exposure to virus-containing respiratory droplets. Because of this some experts have pushed for more specific regulations for ventilation in public spaces.
Get more answers from the CDC to FAQs regarding COVID-19.