I hope to have about a dozen posts here, each with this same introductory statement of a few paragraphs before I get to an idea presentation. My position is that each side of the reopening issue has valid points. On the one hand, the more in which close, interpersonal contact takes place in a reopening (even with masks, which are flawed), the greater is the prospect of a resurgence of Covid-19 and an increase in deaths. And such a resurgence would lead to another drive for shutdowns. On the other hand, the country will simply fall apart if we do not begin to reopen or, if upon reopening, we were to again be forced to comply with a drive for new shutdowns as a result of a resurgence. Many lives have already been ruined and there is only so much that the economy can take.
Of course, we would not be facing such a dilemma if we had a vaccine or a cure. In such a situation, a reopening would be rapid and there would be no turning back. But we don’t have a cure or vaccine, leaving us back with our uncomfortable choices.
Despite the flaws that can be seen in both paths, I believe a new path should be aggressively pursued, one which would actually take into account the concerns of both sides. This path would have two prongs: (1) greatly reduce the prospect of the contact transmission and airborne transmission of Covid-19 by exploring some existing technologies from a new angle; and (2) exploring ways in which people could be made less susceptible in having a severe outcome if they got infected. In other words, I believe there are far more effective ways in which to protect people from Covid-19 (and future pandemic organisms) than the standard ones of hand washing, standing six feet apart, setting up acrylic barriers and wearing masks (tactics which should be maintained). In fact, I believe there are ways in which substantial protection can be provided concurrent with the closer contact between people which will inevitably come with a reopening, even in restaurants and on airplanes.
I will admit that some of my ideas would cost a tidy sum to implement. There is no way around it. However, in a world where trillions of dollars have already been allocated, I think these concepts, in totality, would be among the few that would directly apply to Covid-19 and would have the greatest impact on it.
Please not that in the following idea I have simply made an observation and expanded upon it. I hope you will find that I have presented a concept which is rational and logical. Of course, there may be flaws of which I am not aware, but we should work on overcoming them and not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
The idea follows.
In considering current options to protect against the indoor airborne transmission of Covid-19, in settings where people regularly transit, the current available options are: (1) Masks or respirators (being commonly used); (2) Stationary placements of negative ion generators; UVC light or Far UVC light (none of which have yet become commonplace); and (3) Personal (wearable) devices emitting negative ions and/or Far UVC light (only a less-refined version available, in minimal use).
The varied concepts in this narrative puts forth strategies to expand the indoor use of negative ions, UVC light and Far UVC light in intensities much greater than would be possible in personal wearable devices (#3, above), thus providing wider protective coverage. Furthermore, these concepts will enable a greater focus on the “human level” environment, where some of the proposals for stationary placements (#2, above) may not be able address in a sufficient manner. Also, if the approach of #2 is not implemented in various settings, the approaches in this narrative will at least allow a comparable level of protection, either in large areas of buildings (A and B , below) or in the immediately surrounding environments of individuals (C, D and E, below).
As alluded to above, the use of negative ions, UVC light and Far UVC light can help substantially in the fight against airborne Covid-19. Links at the end of this presentation provide evidence of this.
The strategies being put forth fall into the following categories. First, we have options which would have a very high output (similar to #2, above). This would involve: (A) Robotic (“Roomba”) roaming devices; and (B) Wall and/or ceiling mounted “rail” systems. Next, we have options that would have a greater output than #3, above, but not as much as #2, above. That would involve: (C) Wheelchair mounted devices; (D) “IV pole / umbrella” devices; and (E) “Lap tray” devices. The use of any of these devices, A – E, will depend upon the nature of any environment under consideration.
The robotic (“Roomba”) device (A) would generally consist of a tall, roaming column supporting negative ion generators and/or UVC light and/or Far UVC light. Ideally, the column should not take up much floor space, as a large footprint would interfere with people passing by. But that would cause stability problems. Therefore, there would need to be a track positioned high up on the walls in hallways and large rooms. These tracks would allow carriages, connected by cable with the column, to move along them. The column would be able to adjust the tension on the cables as it moves from halls to rooms, etc. If a person tried to knock over a column, the cables would tighten and the column would remain stable. Special provisions would be needed if a room has columns. This system would likely not be suitable for entering rooms through doors. Overall, this system would be suitable only in hallways, aisles and lobbies. This system could emit negative ions in all settings. If it had motion detection and body warmth detection capabilities, it would be able to emit shielded UVC light (which is harmful to humans) in the absence of any people. For example, in a hallway, the UVC light would be pointed to the side walls, not down the hallway; it would not shine into open doorways or office windows. It could illuminate areas below seven feet off the ground, an ability which is not allowed with unattended stationary UVC lights (unless they had sensors). If a person comes into range, the motion and body heat detection abilities would cause the UVC light to turn off. It could shine Far UVC light, in all directions, virtually anytime. It could refrain from pointing UVC light directly at the end of a hallway. In essence, this arrangement could perform constant “sweeps” of the indoor environment and reach places with greater intensity than possible with stationary devices.
Careful consideration would be needed for the placement of such devices. Offices, big box stores, universities, airport concourses, some medical facilities and houses of worship would seem to be likely candidates. Schools and other settings where attempts at vandalism are likely would probably not do well with this.
Wall and/or ceiling mounted “rail” systems (B) would bear some similarity to robotic “Roomba” devices, in that a tall column would deliver the same protective technologies as mentioned above (including human detection). The distinction is that they would run on wall or ceiling mounted rails that keep the column close to a nearby wall at all times. This would greatly inhibit any attempts at vandalism. The drawback is that the path used by the columns would need to be kept clear at all times.
This system would likely find suitable placement in school hallways, office hallways, the walls and possibly aisles of auditoriums, etc.
Wheelchairs (C ) and similar mobility aids would also provide a good platform for protection and would perform a valuable service in places like nursing homes, by supplementing, to a degree, any stationary protective devices they may have in place. This approach would require the design of a battery-powered system which provides protection, does not present a safety hazard, is durable and will not interfere with a wheelchair user getting in or out of the wheelchair. It would not carry UVC light emitters; only negative ions and/or Far UVC light would be supplied. Various approaches to the design of the emitters could be entertained, but they would likely entail either being housed in “columns” rising up from the vicinity of the handles which people use to push wheelchairs, or from an overhead “umbrella”, supported by columns as just described. Any design would need to take into account the need of wheelchairs to collapse inward for transport (on occasions) and the occasional need to carry a patient in a medical transport van.
Consideration should also be given to this type of system being used on mobility chairs and scooters. Rolling walkers could also be considered.
This system would give greater protection to people who may need to leave a nursing home for a physician’s appointment and then return. It would also help wheelchair bound individuals in stores, office settings, etc.
“IV pole / umbrella” devices (D) would bear some similarity to the preceding discussion on wheelchairs. These would be more suitable for ambulatory individuals, particularly those with pre-existing conditions that may make them more susceptible to getting Covid-19. The protective emitters could be established along the length of the pole. It might be possible to incorporate some type of “umbrella” arrangement at the top of the pole (allowing Far UVC light to shine downward), but consideration should be given as to whether that would cause any balance problems. The design of a system should take into account occasions where it may need to be collapsed, such as when getting into a car. This system would allow an ambulatory person to take protection wherever he goes and, in most cases, it can be used while the person is standing or sitting.
This device would be of tremendous help to people who work in offices or where intensive physical labor is not required.
The final option, “lap tray” devices (E), are similar to the two immediately preceding discussions in that they would not incorporate UVC light. “Lap tray” devices would find their best applications in restaurants, theaters / auditoriums, “over bed” tables (for patients in hospital beds); airplanes and mass transit. The commonality in each of these settings is that the user would be seated or in bed at an incline. Although there would be subtle design differences, depending on the setting involved, the lap trays would emit negative ions upward. Far UVC light would at least emit upwards and could emit towards the user, depending on their preference. If the upward point light is an annoyance to the user, the light could be angled away a bit with a “Venetian blinds” type of adaptation. The addition of an upward pointed air curtain, from the side and distal edges of the “lap tray” could be considered (creating an encasing, three-sided wall), but the mechanics or air curtains will not be elaborated upon here.
The components of the “lap tray” as mentioned above should provide an extra protective environment for the user. However, various considerations need to be taken into account. These concern whether or not the chair being used has arm rests and whether or not a table is in front of the user. This leads to the following possibilities: (1) A chair with armrests and no table (movie seat, airplane seat); (2) A chair with armrests and a table (some chairs in restaurants, chairs in front of desks in some offices); (3) A chair without armrests and no table (seats on buses, subways, an auditorium using collapsible chairs); and (4) A chair without armrests and a table (some chairs in restaurants, chairs in front of desks in some offices). In situations involving #1, the “lap tray” should have adaptations on the sides which allow it to rest upon the arm rests. In case the user crosses his leg (which causes a knee to be raised), the design should allow some degree of elevation above the level of the top of the arm rests. It should be noted that this option would be extremely beneficial to the airline and theatre industry. Airlines would not be able to retrofit their aircraft to have this approach as a built-in component. In movie theaters, any emitted light may be disturbing to others, so it would be wise for theater owners have such users sit in the back. In situations involving #2, a difficulty arises because much of the chair arm rests will end up beneath the surface of the table which the user is facing. Here, the user could simply move close to the table and rest the “lap tray” on top of the table. Or, the “lap tray” could remain attached the arm rests, but only at the point closest to the user. If the “lap tray” is elevated a bit, the user would be able to move toward the table and the “lap tray” would move in tandem and end up above the table’s surface. However, this will become a problem if the user has to use a computer at the table, or write at the table or eat at the table. In such circumstances the “lap tray” would be in the way. The only conceivable way to address this would be to enable the “lap tray” to be split in the middle. The two pieces would be placed on the table, facing each other. This would not afford the same degree of protection as when resting on arm rests, but it would help. In situations involving #3, a user could, of course, simply place the “lap tray” on their lap. However, since a person usually shift’s their body while seated, it may be difficult to keep it perfectly situated. At least one hand would need to hold it, constantly. One way to address this would be to simply have a strap around the neck attach to it, at the device’s most distal points (left and right). A foam pillow of some type, to rest under the “lap tray”, might also help a bit. Retractable legs for the “lap tray” might be considered, but they might cause someone who passes by to trip. In situations involving #4, they would have to be addressed in a manner as described for #2, above, namely dividing the device in half. Note that an ambulatory person could carry a “lap tray” from one setting to another with a shoulder strap.
All of the above mentioned negative ion, UVC and Far UVC options would clean the air immensely and, of great importance, would be so visible that the public would feel more assured. The public could continue wearing masks, but there would be less fear in these settings where any of these options presented from the beginning of this write-up to this point are seen in use.
Since manufacturers are already making negative ion generators, UVC and Far UVC components, they do not need any encouragement in their development production of devices that already exist. However, what is needed is a high-level request from the government to consider making the types of devices as described above. Such a request would be magnified even further if all of the industries that have been severely affected by Covid-19 were to clamor for the production of such options. They would know that if these systems were in place, their employees would be safer and the public would feel far safer in patronizing them.
Unfortunately, the cost of placing any of the above systems in offices, schools, restaurants, or in the hands of patients/consumers to a degree to where they would be truly effective would be sky high. That is where the Federal government may need to use the Defense Production Act, offer tax deductions, etc. Mass installations and or individual unit distributions could effectively serve as a infrastructure measure.
The following links support the use of negative ions:
Successful study with viruses: https://www.nature.com/articles/srep11431
Ionizer destroys acinobacter in hospital: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn3228-air-ionisers-wipe-out-hospital-infections/
An aircraft ionization system: https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/business-aviation/2015-10-09/ionization-system-removes-pathogens-cabin-air
Active against Salmonella: https://agresearchmag.ars.usda.gov/2000/mar/salm
A listing of studies compiled by a manufacturer: https://www.surroundair.com/negative-ions/
Effective against Newcastle virus: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2130090/pdf/jhyg00043-0066.pdf
Effective with viruses:
Role with antibody treatment:
Use in hospitals:
Example of Bipolar ionization:
Plasmacluster ions – effective against viruses:
A few available products:
Support in Scotland:
Nonthermal Plasma Reactor (Cold Plasma) – an advancec negative ion generator – Effective against viruses:
This discusses only ozone: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/2020-02/26/content_75747237_4.htm ; https://www.ozonepartner.com/poultry
The following links provide insights on UVC:
https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200325-covid-19-the-history-of-pandemics ; https://www.digitaltrends.com/news/can-uv-light-kill-coronavirus/ ; https://www.rfsafe.com/207-222-nm-uvc-light-can-slow-spread-of-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/ ; https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21058-w .
This suggests that Far UVC can be provided in LED form:
This has more information on Far UVC: