As HFG continues to research COVID-19 and its potential effects on the hospital environment, I thought I would pass along some of what we’ve learned. Below are some resources for you to reference and share as necessary. Thank you for all that you are doing to protect our nation against this pandemic.
How to Prepare Your Built Environment for COVID-19
1. The Institute for Health in the Built Environment has released a pre-print version of the article “2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: A Review of the Current Literature and Built Environment (BE) Considerations to Reduce Transmission.” While not yet peer reviewed, the analysis is pertinent for administrators, facility directors, and others working to prepare their buildings for the ongoing pandemic.
The authors make the following suggestions for disease mitigation:
Chemical Deactivation: Identify high risk areas like toilets and sinks.
Higher Outside Air Fractions: Can be achieved by increasing ventilation damper positions on air-handling units, but be aware of increased energy consumption, inability of some systems to increase outside air fractions, the counter-productiveness of recirculating indoor air, humidity implications, and other unintended consequences.
Ventilation Directly through Building Perimeter: Can be achieved by simply opening windows when possible or through distributed HVAC units such as packaged terminal air-conditioners (PTACs). Consider humidity implications and other unintended consequences.
Relative Humidity: “A relative humidity between 40%-60% within the [Built Environment] may help to limit the spread and survival of SARS-CoV-2.” But weigh the risks of mold growth through accidental over-humidification. Targeted in-room humidification is another option.
Lighting: Daylight can play a role in reducing viability of viruses. Ultraviolet light can be used to decontaminate rooms.
2. Analysis of the longer term design implications of COVID-19 continues in this Washington Post article: “Pandemics spread in hospitals. Changes in design and protocols can save lives.”
3. On Monday at 1:00 PM ET, the CDC will hold a webinar entitled “Update for Rural Partners, Stakeholders, and Communities on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response.”