Coronavirus has taken over the 24-hour news cycle, with article after article updating us on newly identified cases, handwashing techniques, and why we should avoid touching our faces. While this information is vital to controlling the spread of COVID-19 and protecting the most vulnerable populations, one area that has been routinely underrecognized is the role that building design and operations can play in controlling the spread of this disease.
To start with the basics, what exactly is Coronavirus?
Coronavirus are a family of viruses that affect the respiratory tract and cause a range of illnesses—from a mild cold, to a serious case of pneumonia.COVID-19, also referred to as coronavirus disease 2019, is a disease caused by a new viral strain of the coronavirus, not previously seen in humans. While health officials are still learning more about how the virus spreads and ways to control the outbreak, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 can be spread in three main ways, with the first two suspected to be the most common:
It is believed that people are most contagious when they are symptomatic, though it is possible to spread the virus before symptoms are shown. It is important to note that more than 80% of confirmed coronavirus cases are not severe and do not require hospitalization. Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are at greater risk for infection and severity of symptoms.
How can the real estate industry help reduce Coronavirus transmission?
As COVID-19 spreads, the connection between health and our environment becomes increasingly clear. While there is still much that is unknown about this virus, there are immediate preventative steps those working across the real estate industry can take to reduce the risk of infection:
It goes without saying that healthy buildings play a central role in creating a healthy world. In addition to everyday precautions taken by individuals, the building industry and employers have a vital role to play in creating safe environments for themselves and their employees.
COVID-19 has taken a major toll on global economies due to production halts, strained healthcare systems, supply chain disruptions, workplace and school closures, and event cancellations. Taking measures to build a healthy environment is prudent to both preventing illness and preventing loss of productivity.
For more guidance on how to apply Fitwel and contribute to building health for all™, visit fitwel.org.
World Health Organization: Getting Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19→
BOMA Canada: Coronavirus Resources→
Global Wellness Institute: PositivelyWell→
New York Times: Your Building Can Make You Sick or Keep You Well→
Financial Times: How Healthy Buildings Can Help Us Fight Coronavirus→
This article has been updated as of March 19, 2020 with additional references for the strategies.