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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

New Paper on Viable Microorganisms on Hospital Windows Published in PeerJ!

Through a collaboration between the Biology and the Built Environment Center, Institute for Health in the Built Environment, and Oregon Health & Science University , we surveyed the viable microbial communities that were present throughout a ward in Kohler Pavilion at OHSU in Portland, Oregon. Previous work from our lab group demonstrated that light exposure modulates microbial survival and community composition. We sought to explore this same relationship in the real-world scenario of the hospital.

While no trends were found in relation to sunlight differentials in the patient rooms, apparent trends in microbial abundance were observed. We hypothesize that these trends are due in part to the movement of healthcare staff throughout the hospital and specifically in more central areas of the ward. Check out the full paper here!

Review on COVID-19 and the Built Environment now published in mSystems!

“2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: Built Environment Considerations To Reduce Transmission”

Since announcing the release of our preprint on COVID-19and the built environment, our lab group has been fielding questions, comments and concerns around our initial manuscript. During this time, we also submitted our manuscript to mSystems.

Based on the comments that we received from reviewers, we expanded upon our discussions of the use of humidity and light (full spectrum and ultraviolet) as potential tools for the mitigating the spread of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles. We also developed a new section on special considerations for healthcare settings. It was really great to receive so much feedback on this work before sending it for publication, and I really think it improved the final product. The discuss around relative humidity and the impact that it may have on viruses was one of the more disputed topics that we discuss, so we wanted to begin to compile all of the current literature concerning viruses and relative humidity. Myself and the other authors would love input from other researchers if we have missed anything. We’ve created a google sheets to hopefully begin a larger conversation around this topic.

You can find the final manuscript here and the google sheets here.