College Coronavirus Outbreaks Already Occuring

The air hasn’t yet become crisp and the colors of leaves are weeks from changing, yet coronavirus is already ravaging universities preparing for their fall semester.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill cancelled its in-person undergraduate classes after a COVID-19 outbreak spread across campus during just the first week of the fall semester, reports ABC News. Universities have pledged to heavily clean and disinfect their campuses, but that won’t help too much in situation like this, as the clusters of infections at UNC are believed to have started in dorms, a fraternity house and student living spaces. Packed bars and off-campus parties are also believed to be a cause.

It isn’t fair to just call out UNC. Nearly two dozens members of a sorority at Oklahoma State University recently tested positive for COVID-19, reports NBC News. University of Notre Dame reported 29 new cases of COVID-19 between Aug. 6 and Aug. 14. More than eight percent of the students tested at the university since Aug. 3 have tested positive for COVID-19, reports the South Bend Tribune

Regardless of what university they clean, it appears the janitors and custodians at universities across the nation face an enormously difficult task this fall.

Nursing Home Cases Of COVID-19 Still Rising

Positive cases of COVID-19 were up nearly 80 percent earlier this summer and continue to rise, according to report reviewed by the Associated Press. The massive rise in cases were primarily caused by outbreaks in the southern and western United States.

Tamara Konetzka, a professor at the University of Chicago who specializes in long-term care, says the numbers shown in the study seem to suggest the problem isn’t close to being solved. 

One interesting statistic shows that more than 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths were related to long-term care facilities, despite the fact that the people living at these facilities only make up 1 percent of the nation’s population.

COVID-19 cases in nursing homes dropped from May to June and remained stable for most of the month. However, cases began to go back up in late June and have steadily rose ever since, according to the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living’s analysis of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services data.

Some theorize that outbreaks spread to nursing homes because the people who work there are bringing the infections in with them when they don’t know they’re infected. Regardless of how the virus is getting to nursing homes, it’s certain that cleaning these facilities properly is just about as important as ever.

Advice For Reopening Buildings

As many buildings are preparing to reopen during this pandemic, the ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force has updated its reopening “Building Readiness” guidance for HVAC systems to help mitigate the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. 

“The Building Readiness Guide includes additional information and clarifications so that owners can avoid operating their HVAC systems 24/7,” says Wade Conlan, ASHRAE Epidemic Task Force Building Readiness Team lead in a press release. “By rolling out this updated guidance, we are providing a more robust structure for building owners to complete the objectives of their Building Readiness Plan and anticipate the needs of building occupants.”

Specific updated recommendations to the building readiness guidance include the following:

Pre- and Post- Occupancy with Outdoor Air

The intent of this strategy is to ensure that infectious aerosol in the building at the end of occupancy is removed prior to the next occupied period. The building is flushed for a duration sufficient to reduce concentration of airborne infectious particles by 95 percent. For a well-mixed space, this would require three air changes (three times the building volume) of outdoor air (or three equivalent air changes including the effect of filtration and air cleaners) as detailed in the calculation methodology. There is also guidance on methods to increase the quantity of outdoor air introduced by systems. 

Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) Systems Operation

Guidance is provided to assist in determining if an energy recovery system using an energy wheel is well designed and maintained and whether it should remain in operation. Based on the assessment of ERV conditions, it may be possible to fix problems and return it to service.