How do we contain the spread of Covid-19?

What has made this Coronavirus so problematic has been its high level of infectiousness. It can live on surfaces for days and in the air for hours.  Individuals may have the virus and be spreading it for as much as 5 days before they exhibit symptoms, and may be contagious for up to two weeks.  

The COVID-19 virus is spread two ways.

  1. Airborne Spread

  2. Fomite Spread (on surfaces)

Most people get infected in their own home. A household member contracts the virus in the community and brings it into the house where sustained contact between household members leads to infection. This short video provides an overview of how COVID is spread. 

Airborne Spread 

Summaries and distillation of the current research that has been completed and broadly circulated are included in a study done by a PhD at UMass that provided insight in particular to how airborne spread occurs.  A formula:  Exposure to Virus x Time = Infection.  Work by Erin Bromage PhD provides a very insightful look at exactly how the virus spreads and the extent to which you are at risk in a variety of settings.  MORE

Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) 

PPEs are a central and critical part of any disease prevention strategy. The shortage of such was a major challenge in the COVID-19 outbreak. The US had failed to refresh its supply of such after the 2009 Swine Flu outbreak or H1N1.

China, which is the major supplier of PPEs, had limited exports upwards of 80% of PPEs. This continues to be a major challenge as demand continues and the expectation of a new wave of cases in the coming months has put a strain on demand.


Protection from infection can be achieved using a physical approach to manage the virus vs. a biological approach. This means managing the flow of airborne droplets and insuring that surfaces are not infected.

Ultraviolet lamps inside an air conditioning duct

Air Quality & Ventilation  

One study of over 7,000 infected individuals found that only 1 case was contracted outdoors. It appears that fresh air and ventilation create an environment where the spread of COVID is minimized. Thus the goal is to make indoor air pure and virus-free.

Technologies incorporating ultraviolet light (UV-A) into the HVAC (heating and air conditioning systems), when combined with sophisticated air management ventilation and plexiglass dividers can significantly reduce the risk of coronavirus indoors by creating a more outdoor environment.

This technology, which is now seeking approval from the FDA, holds promise as it can be safely used in occupied public spaces to kill pathogens in the air before people breathe them in.

Far UV-C lighting. A recent development of a UV-C light technology uses lamps that emit continuous, low doses of a particular wavelength of ultraviolet light. It is called far-UV-C and was developed at Columbia University. This technology can kill viruses and bacteria without harming human skin, eyes and other tissues, as is the problem with conventional UV light.