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Improve ventilation to help avoid COVID-19

As schools go back, experts recommend simple ways to easily and affordably get cleaner air flowing

YORK, Pa. — So much is still unknown about COVID-19, like how long the virus actually lingers in the air.  Some lab experiments suggest it could be at least 3 hours. The news has some experts talking about ways to better ventilate the air around you.

What infectious disease experts are sure of, is that COVID-19 jumps between people in close proximity.  Whether it's because of aerosols, droplets or something else, avoiding crowds and wearing a mask is critical in stopping the spread.  However, if there really is the potential for aerosol transmission, people will need to focus more on ventilation going forward.

So let's say someone in your home gets sick with COVID-19.  Experts say improving ventilation systems can be costly, but not always.  

Dr. David Geier said some changes just involve common sense and being proactive.  "To get contaminated air out of a building, either bring fresh air in from the outside by opening doors and windows frequently, or by removing the virus from the air using a high efficiency air filter especially one that removes 99.97 percent of particles from the air," he said.

He also said if you ever walk into a building and it feels stuffy or crowded, that's a good sign of poor ventilation and you may want to consider leaving if possible.

As for schools who go back in person,  all classrooms should vacate rooms for a while in between classes, with the windows and doors open to bring down airborne viral levels. 

At the end of July, the World Health Organization released a series of general recommendations on ventilation for public places and health facilities, which also cites guidelines for schools and businesses developed by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.