Pre-print on COVID-19 and the Built Environment now available!

“2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: A Review of the Current Literature and Built Environment (BE) Considerations to Reduce Transmission”

Transmission electron micrograph of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle isolated from a patient and imaged at the NIH NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick Maryland. Credit to NIAID IRF

A new novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was identified late in December 2019. Since then, the virus has spread to more than 100 countries, infected over 125,000 individuals, and been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

In the last couple of weeks, my lab has tried to figure out how we could contribute our unique knowledge on the interface between microorganisms and the built environment, or the collection of structures and facilities that we spend the majority of our time. However, we did not in any way want to contribute to the spread of fear and panic surrounding the virus but instead, we wanted to contribute new and useful information that help people feel more prepared for the virus that will likely affect every individual on this earth in one way or another. After putting our heads together, we decided that the way that we could make the biggest impact was to apply what we have learned through years of research in controlling the spread and quantity of microorganisms indoors to SARS-CoV-2. To this point, we have written a paper entitled “2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: A Review of the Current Literature and Built Environment (BE) Considerations to Reduce Transmission”.

While this paper does critically look at and demonstrate some potential flaws in the current infrastructure that is present at many buildings and facilities throughout the world, we also provide potential solutions that can help to minimize the spread of SARS-CoV-2. We hope that this review can serve as guidance to all individuals who use and manipulate the built environment around them.

The pre-print manuscript can be found here and the abstract can be read below:

With the increasing spread of severe acute respiratory With the increasing spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that results in coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19), corporate entities, federal, state, county and city governments, universities, school districts, health care facilities, assisted living organizations, daycares, homeowners, and other building owners and occupants have an opportunity to reduce the potential for transmission through built environment (BE) mediated pathways. Over the last decade, substantial research into the presence, abundance, diversity, function, and transmission of microbes in the BE has taken place and revealed common pathogen exchange pathways and In this paper, we synthesize this microbiology of the BE research and the known information about SARS-CoV-2 to provide actionable and achievable guidance to BE decision makers, building operators, and all indoor occupants attempting to minimize infectious disease transmission through environmentally mediated pathways. We believe this information will be useful to corporate and public administrators and individuals responsible for building operations and environmental services in their decision-making process about whether to implement social- distancing measures and for what duration.

Transmission electron micrograph of a SARS-CoV-2 virus particle isolated from a patient and imaged at the NIH NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick Maryland. Credit to NIAID IRF

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