DAVIS, Calif. — Social distancing has kept millions of people in their homes for weeks. The new rules against large gatherings has also closed most offices across the United States. So what happens when Americans start going back to work? Scientists say rethinking the way our buildings are designed could help stop the spread of coronavirus.
In a scientific review, published in the journal mSystems, a team of researchers reveal two things every home and office can do to lower the transmission of COVID-19. First, scientists recommend opening up windows to improve air flow. The team from the University of California, Davis and University of Oregon also say letting more natural light into a room will help create a healthier environment.
Health professionals still don’t have all the answers about how COVID-19 is spread. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has only been seen being transmitted from patient to patient. Viruses can survive on a surface, like an office table, but experts aren’t sure how long SARS-CoV-2 stays alive. It could be hours or even days if the item isn’t frequently disinfected.
The study says scientists don’t know how effective sunlight is against the virus, but the health benefits for people make it a cheap and easy way to fight coronavirus.
“Daylight exists as a free, widely available resource to building occupants with little downside to its use and many documented positive human health benefits,” the team wrote, according to a university release.
Keep The Air Flowing And Keep It Humid
One of the biggest impacts people can make in their home or workplace is increasing the air flow. Scientists say the more air coming into a building from the outside can dilute the amount of virus particles floating around your office. The review warns that even the best air filters can allow virus particles into a closed-off building.
“No filter system is perfect,” the study explains. “Gaps in the edges of filters in hospitals has been a contributing factor of the failure of filtering systems to eliminate pathogens from the shared air environment.”
The scientists add that viruses like drier air and can’t travel as far in humid conditions. Humidity can also affect the envelope protecting many virus particles, including coronavirus. Enough humidity can disrupt or even make a virus inactive.
Coronavirus Changing The Social Workplace
Researchers say the growing number of offices that are designed to encourage a more social atmosphere are also the perfect place to spread germs. Although the government and private businesses probably can’t redesign their offices overnight, the review recommends leaders promote work policies that focus on limiting disease transmission.
Until those offices reopen, social distancing, regularly washing hands, and keeping your home well-lit and well-ventilated is the best advice researchers have to stay healthy during the pandemic.