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The Challenges of Making Indoors Safe

Risks of catching COVID shoot up when virus particles accumulate in buildings, but it’s not clear how best to improve ventilation. By Dyani Lewis

When Lidia Morawska leaves home, she takes with her a slick, shoe-sized device that provides some sobering insights about the restaurants and offices she visits. Outside these buildings, her carbon dioxide monitor reads just above 400 parts per million (p.p.m.). But indoors is a different story. 

Even in a seemingly spacious, high-ceilinged restaurant, the number sometimes shoots up as high as 2,000 p.p.m. — a sign that the room has poor ventilation and could pose a risk for COVID-19 infection. Visual cues can be deceptive, even for Morawska, an aerosol scientist from the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. “The general public has no idea about this,” she says.

 

The situation is no different inside cafes or kindergartens around much of the world, according to researchers who have wielded similar handheld CO2 meters. And that’s bad news for hopes of defeating the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. 

 

For months, health authorities have singled out indoor spaces with poor ventilation as potential infection hotspots. And on 1 March, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a long-awaited road map to better ventilation. The document — which Morawska contributed to — sets out specific targets and measures that businesses and other places can take to improve ventilation and make buildings safer. 

 

But Philomena Bluyssen, a building engineer at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, says that more needs to be done. “The WHO guidelines,” she says, “are the minimum.” 

 

Bluyssen and others are critical of governments’ failure to provide clear guidance or money for people to make indoor spaces safer. Some scientists say that has left large swathes of the population — from schoolchildren to office workers, restaurant goers and prisoners — at risk of catching COVID-19. 

 

Others say that there’s no easy fix, and the precise ventilation or air-purification regimes to make indoor spaces safe are not known. “The complexity is not at a level that you can — with a simple set of advice — resolve it,” says Ehsan Mousavi, a construction engineer at Clemson University in South Carolina, who studies indoor air quality and ventilation in hospitals. 

 

Still, many experts say that enough is known for authorities to provide a clear message about how important good ventilation is for safety indoors, especially in spaces that are continuously occupied, or where masks are removed when eating.

Slow recognition

On 28 March 2020, two months after the WHO had declared COVID-19 a global health emergency, the agency broadcast a public-health message on Twitter and Facebook. “FACT: #COVID19 is NOT airborne,” it said, labelling claims to the contrary as misinformation. But evidence quickly established that the virus is transmitted by air, and researchers roundly criticized the agency.

The WHO updated its advice on SARS-CoV-2 transmission three months later, acknowledging the possibility that airborne transmission might occur in some community settings. Airborne transmission in “crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out”, the updated advice says. 

Yuguo Li, a building environment engineer at the University of Hong Kong, says that he is disappointed it took the WHO and other health authorities so long. “We would have saved a lot of people” if airborne transmission was recognized earlier, he says. 

A WHO spokesperson says the agency has mentioned the importance of ventilation since early in the pandemic. 

Others say that the WHO’s position still doesn’t go far enough. “Airborne transmission is dominant,” says environmental epidemiologist Joseph Allen at Harvard University’s T. H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. That’s why building controls such as ventilation and air filtration make sense, he says. 

The WHO and other health authorities have failed to clearly prioritise measures to improve indoor air quality to reduce the chance of catching COVID-19, says Jose-Luis Jimenez, an atmospheric chemist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “They don’t emphasize how important it is,” he says. What the WHO needs to say is “fact, it goes through the air,” says Jimenez, “we breathe it in.” 

A stark message from the WHO would ensure that national health authorities take notice, says Jimenez. Australia, the Netherlands and some other nations still do not acknowledge in their public statements that airborne transmission has a significant role in spreading the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

“If we took half the effort that’s being given to disinfection, and we put it on ventilation, that will be huge.”

By the start of this year, concerns over ventilation had reached boiling point. Hundreds of health-care workers, scientists, engineers and occupational health-and-safety experts signed open letters calling on government officials in Canada, the United States, Australia, Colombia and the United Kingdom to address, among other things, poor indoor air quality. These concerted campaigns all urged local or national governments to take steps to reduce airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2.

One of the problems is that governments and businesses are still spending millions of dollars on surface disinfection, says Jimenez, despite evidence that it is rare for SARS-CoV-2 to pass from one person to another through contaminated surfaces. By contrast, few countries have invested in measures to improve indoor air quality. 

“If we took half the effort that’s being given to disinfection, and we put it on ventilation, that will be huge,” Jimenez says. In October, Germany set aside €500 million (US$593 million) to improve ventilation in public buildings, including schools, museums and public offices. 

Businesses in Germany and South Korea can also apply for government funding to purchase mobile air purifiers that remove virus-laden aerosols. In the United States, by contrast, federal funding to improve indoor air quality was limited to health-care providers such as hospitals, until the American Rescue Plan Act — which also provides funding for schools — became law on 11 March.

 

Indoor Threat

What makes indoor spaces so dangerous is that exhaled virus can accumulate and infect people who do not have direct contact with an infected person. A prime example happened a year ago during a St Patrick’s Day party at a bar in Ho Chi Minh City, in Vietnam. Twelve people became infected at the party, but only four had close contact with the infected person . More recent outbreaks at gyms in Chicago, Illinois, and Hawaii have also occurred despite physical distancing of attendees and capacity limits on fitness classes. 

Ever since the WHO acknowledged last year that airborne transmission could happen, public-health agencies have emphasized the risks in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces. But the terminology is deceptive, says Morawska. “You imagine a busy bar,” she says. “In the reality, any place can become crowded and poorly ventilated. And people don’t realize this.” 

Her own modestly sized office at the Queensland University of Technology quickly becomes poorly ventilated if someone visits and the door is closed, she says. And spacious, uncrowded restaurants can appear to be well ventilated when they are not. 

It’s one of the reasons that Jimenez and others advocate the use of inexpensive CO2 monitors as a rough measure of whether ventilation is adequate or not. As virus-carrying aerosols are exhaled, so too is CO2. And when ventilation is poor, CO2 accumulates along with the virus, says Jimenez. In an unreviewed analysis5 , Jimenez and his co-author Zhe Peng found that SARS-CoV-2 infection risk rises along with CO2 concentrations indoors. 

Taiwan, Norway and Portugal have laws that limit indoor CO2 to 1,000 p.p.m. Studies in California6 and Madrid7 show that CO2 levels in school classrooms frequently exceed this level. High levels have been linked to poorer mental concentration and more sick days. 

Setting clear CO2 limits would help to ensure that ventilation is adequate to reduce infection risk, says Jimenez. But his work suggests that in general 700 p.p.m. would be a better limit, and lower limits should apply to gyms and other venues where people expel greater volumes of air. 

Not everyone agrees that CO2 monitors are the solution. “There is no correlation between CO2 and virus,” says Christian Kähler, a physicist who studies aerosol production and dynamics at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, Germany. This can give people a false sense of security when CO2 levels are low, he says. 

Jimenez argues it could provide a quick indication of whether ventilation is adequate. In August 2020, the Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations (REHVA) agreed, recommending installing CO2 monitors in buildings where ventilation might be inadequate. 

And late last year, teachers in Montreal, Canada, covertly measured CO2 levels in classrooms and took their findings to the media. The Quebec government is now publishing CO2 levels from public schools online, with the aim of having all levels below 1,000 p.p.m. But so far, this type of public reporting is the exception.

 

No Set Standards

Part of the difficulty in setting ventilation targets is that it’s unclear how much ventilation is needed to reduce infection rates to an acceptable level. Experiments that directly measure how infection risks change with different ventilation rates would be unethical because it would put people in danger, says Mousavi. 

The precise infectious dose for SARS-CoV-2 is also unknown. But researchers can infer how much exhaled virus is needed to cause infection by analysing disease outbreaks. For example, Jimenez and colleagues used details from an infamous choir rehearsal in Skagit Valley in Washington — where one person probably infected 52 of the 60 other attendees — to estimate the amount of infectious virus exhaled.

 

Jimenez used this approach to launch an online tool (which has not been peer reviewed) in June 2020 to help people assess the risk of infection in different indoor spaces, with or without masks. The tool calculates risk based on room size, the number of people present and what they are doing; viruses are exhaled at different rates depending on whether people are singing, running on a treadmill or sitting quietly. 

 

The WHO recommends a minimum ventilation rate of 6–12 air changes — in which the entire volume of air in the room is replaced — per hour to prevent airborne transmission of pathogens in health-care facilities, but a lower rate of air changes for other venues. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) establishes minimum standards for indoor air quality. Recommended targets are as low as 0.35 air changes per hour for homes, 2–3 for offices, 5–6 for schools and 6–12 for hospitals. 

 

But even those minimum standards are rarely met, says Liangzhu (Leon) Wang, a mechanical engineer at Concordia University in Montreal. And although experts say that more ventilation is needed to reduce infection risk, they disagree over how much. For schools, Allen recommends 4–6 air changes per hour, which can come from a combination of outdoor air ventilation, filtration or supplemental air cleaning. Kähler meanwhile, recommends at least 6 air changes per hour. 

 

Wang and his colleagues have tried to estimate what level of ventilation is required to reduce infection risk at schools. They measured the ventilation rate in classrooms at 3 schools in Montreal and found that a classroom of 20 students and one teacher with open windows exchanged less than half of its air per hour; a similar room with mechanical ventilation had two air changes per hour. Even that wouldn’t be enough to reduce the reproduction number to less than 1 — the level at which a pandemic begins to shrink. This value would mean that one infected student passes the virus to less than one other person in the room. Wang’s analysis, which is yet to be peer reviewed, suggests that between 3 and 8 air changes per hour would be required to get the reproduction number below 1 in that setting. 

 

Standard ventilation rates are inadequate, says Wang. In another preprint, he and his colleagues estimate that doubling the amount of outdoor air reduces the chance of infection by up to 35% in densely packed venues such as restaurants. But that same change has a much smaller effect — reducing risk by as little as 0.1% — in larger venues with fewer people, such as warehouses. Their analysis also shows that wearing a mask indoors is even more effective than changing the air: masks decrease infection risk by more than 60%, because they cut the virus off at its source, says Wang.

 

Clearing the air

Opening windows is the easiest method that health authorities suggest to improve ventilation. Although it is better than doing nothing, an open window rarely exchanges enough air between the indoor and outdoor environment, especially if there is no cross-breeze, says Kähler. 

“In the reality, any place can become crowded and poorly ventilated. And people don’t realize this."

Opening windows for just a few minutes — between classes, say — would leave the majority of virus untouched, according to air-exchange measurements Kähler and his colleagues took in a university lecture room11. In a preprint study, Kähler found that two windows that allow a cross-breeze would need to be open two-thirds of the time to equal the performance of the room’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) system. And if the weather outside is too hot or cold, people simply won’t follow that advice. “It protects you sometimes, but not always,” he says. 

 

A better method is to mechanically ventilate a space. This draws in virus-free outdoor air and removes contaminated indoor air, thereby diluting any virus present. In April 2020, ASHRAE and REHVA recommended setting HVAC controls to draw in as much outdoor air as possible and to filter recirculated air. 

 

But Kähler says that few buildings, especially in milder climates such as in Germany, have systems powerful enough to use 100% outside air. Most office spaces and classrooms around the world are supplied with just 20% outside air, with the remainder recirculated to save on energy consumption for heating and cooling. 

 

The environmental cost of increased ventilation should give people pause, says Li. In many cases, beefing up ventilation systems now will mean removing them once the pandemic threat subsides. A better solution, he says, is to limit numbers and curb risky behaviours. “Don’t shout, don’t sing and don’t run,” he advises. Another drawback of cranking up building ventilation is that rooms can become draughty and noisy, says Bluyssen, “because the system wasn’t designed for that”. 

 

Mobile air purifiers that filter out viruses and other airborne contaminants could be readily deployed as part of the solution, says Kähler, and would be more energy efficient than using extra heating or cooling on outside air. Filters in HVAC systems could also clean air that is recirculated. 

 

Bluyssen and her colleagues tested air purifiers fitted with high-efficiency particulate air filters in a controlled environment. In some scenarios, the air purifiers outperformed the ventilation system for removing aerosols simulated by air-filled soap bubbles. But even on the lowest setting, the air purifiers exceeded the acceptable level of noise and draught recommended by European and Dutch standards. 

 

Innovation is required to address the shortfalls of current systems, says Bluyssen: “We really need to look for simple, affordable solutions.” One idea she’s looking into is personalized ventilation — a seat fitted with a system that sucks away exhaled air and returns it filtered and cleaned, for instance. “There are all kinds of possibilities,” she says. 

 

But Mousavi says that the biggest issue is that not enough is known about the systems that are already in use. “We need to know more about these technologies, how they perform,” he says, so that recommendations — from ASHRAE, or the WHO, or another agency — are based on clear science. “It’s time for us to build that foundation,” he adds. 

 

As vaccines are rolled out and the risk of infection drops, the window of opportunity to fix poor indoor air quality is closing, says Morawska. “This hasn’t passed yet,” she says. But next year, “it may be too late”. 

 

Researchers say that a greater focus on ventilation will yield benefits during the next pandemic — and even when there are no major disease outbreaks. Indoor air quality “has been very bad for a long time”, says Bluyssen. “This gives us the opportunity to improve not only the air quality for pandemic situations, but also the whole indoor environmental quality for the future.

 

Dyani Lewis is a freelance science journalist in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Original article: https://media.nature.com/original/magazine-assets/d41586-021-00810-9/d41586-021-00810-9.pdf

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Helping Reopen Texas: New Biodefense Technology Plays Pivotal Role in Providing Cleaner, Viral-Free Indoor Air Across the State

Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) air filtration technology that catches and kills actual Sars-CoV-2 (virus causing COVID-19) instantaneously; installing in facilities throughout Texas this week

HOUSTON, March 17, 2021 (Newswire.com) – On the heels of Governor Abbott’s call to fully reopen Texas, Houston based, Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) is helping businesses do so safely, with the installation of the IVP Biodefense Indoor Air SystemTM – the only existing air filter system which can instantaneously catch and kill airborne COVID-19 (99.999%), other RNA viruses, and anthrax spores (99.98%) in a single pass. IVP’s core technology is a specialized heated filtration system, invented by Monzer Hourani, which meets ASHRAE standards and has been granted emergency use authorization by the FDA during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

IVP is playing an integral role in reopening businesses and keeping children in schools across Texas with deployments in over one hundred Texas school campuses to include Galveston ISD, Slidell ISD, Comal ISD, Banquete ISD and Houston ISD. The medical devices have been installed at schools across the US, including hot zones in Florida.

 

Current installations include the Intercontinental Houston Medical Center, Baytown City Government, Fulton City Government, University of Houston, Texas A&M University, T-Mobile tower, St. Joseph’s Medical Center a Steward Health Care Facility, HotWorx gyms, the San Antonio Riverwalk, Texas Department of Emergency Management and Department of Public Safety, Rosewood Hotels, Hilton Hotels and more. The Texas Restaurant Association has endorsed IVP for use in Texas restaurants to get hospitality businesses back to work safely as well. IVP is installed in health care settings across the US to include over 100 hospitals and healthcare facilities, including COVID-19 specialty hospitals, neuro-psych facilities, rehabilitation hospitals and tertiary centers including University Hospital System. The device was recently installed to incarceration facilities in Michigan.

 

IVP has deployed units to help keep Texans safe while returning to work and schools:

  • George R Brown Convention Center, Houston
  • American Airlines Integrated Operations Center, Dallas
  • Texas Capital Bank Building, Richardson
  • And Agency, San Antonio
  • St. Paul Lutheran Child Development Center, San Antonio
  • T-Mobile Building, Houston
  • Moores Opera House, University of Houston
  • St. Joseph Medical Center, Houston
  • Wortham Center Theater, Houston
  • University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston

“IVP is helping Texas safely reopen their economy with proven solutions that raise the quality of indoor air,” said Dr. Garrett Peel, IVP co-founder. “By following the CDC guidelines and providing clean, pathogen-free air in buildings, we are using science to engineer our way out of this public health crisis.”

 

The system was designed by IVP founder and inventor, Monzer Hourani, who has a background in physics, science and engineering. The game changing technology works by forcing air through a heated filter that captures and kills contaminants, including airborne pathogens, instantaneously, without changing the ambient air temperature significantly. IVP has been endorsed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as one of five top technologies in the world to combat COVID-19, and was recently named a top 25 Newsmaker of the Year by the Engineering News Record. The prestigious Newsmaker of the Year award will be announced April 8 at the ENR virtual conference.

 

The research was a collaborative effort led by Monzer Hourani, dating back to April 2020 with Texas Center for Superconductivity at the University of Houston, Galveston National Laboratory and Texas A&M University Engineering Experiment Station.

 

About Integrated Viral Protection (IVP)

Integrated Viral Protection Solutions, LP (IVP) was created by Monzer Hourani in April 2020, to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic and to foster research, development, and deployment of technologies that offer biodefense solutions to mitigate transmission of biological threats in indoor environments. At the heart of this award-winning biodefense design is a proprietary heated mesh that works in conjunction with legacy air filtration found in HVAC systems. The resulting suite of products will offer proven in-line mitigation for the airborne transmission of COVID-19 indoors. This technology has been recognized by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers as a top innovation of 2020 for fighting COVID-19, and Hourani is recognized by Engineering News-Record as a top newsmaker.

 

The Biodefense Indoor Air Protection System is first line prevention technology against environmentally (airborne) mediated transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). The heated biodefense filter can be retrofitted into commercial and home HVAC systems and/or deployed as a mobile unit equipped with powerful filtration capability. For more information, please visit www.ivpair.com.

 

For IVP contact:

Lauren Velasco, lauren@commongroundpr.com; 847-567-4322
Maggie Teson, maggiet@commongroundpr.com; 636-222-2927

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Wayne County 1st Jail System In US To Install Groundbreaking Device That Kills Airborne Viruses/COVID-19

CBS DETROIT – At the William Dickerson Correctional Facility there’s some ground-breaking technology taking place that targets COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses. It’s called the Integrated Viral Protection, or IVP and Wayne County Sheriff Raphael Washington says it’s groundbreaking technology in the fight against COVID-19

 

“We’re going to attack COVID where it lurks, in the air.”

 

Sheriff Washington says the IVP will make this happen. The machine works as an air disinfecting system and Wayne County is the Country’s first Jail to receive one.

 

Dr. Garett Peel MD, IVP founding partner says, the system is placed in over 100 schools, hospitals and entertainment venues throughout the County, and is proven to kill airborne illnesses, including COVID-19.

 

“So it’s important that we are pumping clean fresh air to focus on the re-circulation and kill whatever is in the air instantaneously and that’s what this medical device does, we are FDA approved for sell during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

 

Dr. Peel says it’s important to have this system is largely populated environments such as prisons, where the virus is easily spread. He says in its current locations they have proven success.

 

“Thankfully seen a decrease in infection rate where we have deployed these units.” Said Dr. Peel during a press conference at the Dickerson Correctional Facility on Thursday.

 

The Wayne County Sheriff’s office has the units in 5 locations, including the 2 downtown jails and the Dickerson facility in Hamtramck. Having loss several staff members to COVID-19 including the County’s Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Sheriff Washington says doing all they can to mitigate the virus is extremely important to the office.

 

“These losses have focused us to do all we can to prevent COVID from threatening everyone who comes in contact with this agency.”

 

Washington says they are continuing to take other safety precautions including masks wear, inmate and staff COVID testing. He says there are currently 350 staff members that have received vaccinations.

 

“This does not replace CDC guidelines we still want to make sure that this is a level of enhancement a level of security.” Says Dr. Peel

 

He hopes to have the units in other heavily populated facilities throughout the state of Michigan.

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3 Wayne County jails become first in US to start installing COVID-19 air disinfectors

DETROIT FREE PRESS – Three Wayne County jails are the first detention facilities in the U.S. to implement groundbreaking heated filtration technology units to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

 

Thus far, 12 Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) units have been installed at five Wayne County buildings, three jails and two administrative. Through powerful circulation, the IVP units catch and kill airborne viruses — including tuberculosis, influenza as well as the novel coronavirus — while disinfecting the air. 

 

The decision to integrate the system was a personal one for Sheriff Raphael Washington, he said during the announcement of the new system Thursday, as it began under the leadership of the late Sheriff Benny Napoleon. Napoleon died of the virus on Dec. 17 after experiencing complications that required hospitalization.

 

“This is personal for us as it relates to losing people within our facility, but we want to make this technology great for everyone coming into our facility,” Washington said. “These losses have allowed us to focus to do all we can to prevent COVID from threatening everyone who comes in contact with this agency.”

 

The Wayne County Sheriff’s Office has been hit hard by the pandemic and has lost multiple personnel members, including one officer and one commander. According to the sheriff’s office, 270 members have tested positive throughout the pandemic. 

 

The IVP system is another layer of caution in the agency’s efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Other efforts include biweekly testing of personnel, frequent sanitization, and collaborating with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to reduce the inmate population when possible.

 

Working with the county executive’s office, the agency has secured $300,000 in funding for this project but it will cost the county $240,000 thanks to donations, Washington said. A single venue mobile unit, which has a circulation of up to 2,000 cubic feet per minute, retails for $15,000. 

The sheriff’s office so far has employed 12 venue mobile units and 10 room mobile units, which retail for less than $5,000, in five facilities. It is fully operational at the county’s Division I, II and III jails, the sheriff’s headquarters on Woodward Avenue in Detroit, and its road patrol office on Henry Ruff Road in Westland. Authorities did not have an estimate for when all facilities will have the IVP system implemented. 

 

“We know that the virus can be suspended into the air, it can live amongst us for hours and it can even travel in HVAC ducts,” Dr. Garrett Peel, co-founder of IVP. “So it’s important that we are pumping clean fresh air to focus on the re-circulation and kill that whatever is in the air. And that’s what this medical device does.”

How it works

IVP devices are deployed into high-risk areas based on the Wells-Riley model that evaluated the infection risk among populations. Through powerful circulation, the disinfector essentially interrupts transmission by diluting and cleansing the air.

 

“This is not an air purifier, it’s an air disinfector,” Peel said, “and we’ve proven that by being able to kill spores.”

 

Spores are considered the gold standard by experts as the particles can survive harsh conditions and don’t require many nutrients. The devices can catch and kill spores at almost the same rate they can instantly kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus.

 

The heated filter inside the devices kills 99% of SARS-CoV-2 instantly, according to IVP’s research. The devices have been implemented in schools, office buildings, restaurants, and hotels across 36 states thus far. The Wayne County jails and administrative buildings are the first in Michigan.

 

As the size of coronavirus variant B.1.1.7 virus is the same as the original SARS-CoV-2, the devices are able to similarly attack the variant. 

 

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a variant or not, it’s the size that matters,” Peel said.

 

Detention centers in Michigan have proven to be particularly vulnerable to the pandemic, with high infection rates as many are in close proximity. More than half of the state’s B.1.1.7 cases have been reported at an Ionia prison.

 

Vaccination efforts have begun for personnel with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office and 350 employees have received either one or both doses of vaccinations.

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PAM expands indoor biodefense system to kill COVID-19

FOX 56 – Today, one medical facility announced a deployment of a new indoor biodefense system to help eliminate the airborne transmission of COVID-19.

 

Post Acute Medical is the first in our market to install the cutting edge IVP system.

 

The system has a 99% kill rate and kills other viruses as well.

 

“We do accept a lot of patients here with our focus being on respiratory and wound care we see a lot of COVID recovering patients so it’s really important keeping everybody safe,” said David Long, CEO of PAM Specialty Hospital of Wilkes-Barre. 

 

Long says Post Acute Medical invested millions of dollars to provide the IVP system, in its locations throughout the country.

 

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IVP Partners With Tozour Energy Systems to Raise the Standard of Indoor Air Quality

BUSINESS WIRE – Tozour Energy Systems announced an exclusive partnership with Integrated Viral Protection (IVP). IVP is the world’s only biodefense system proven to destroy COVID-19 (99.999%) and anthrax spores (99.98%) instantaneously in a single filter pass without impacting the ambient air. IVP is also the only air-cleaning device tested and approved by the FDA.

 

The agreement positions Tozour as IVP’s exclusive representative for eastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. IVP can provide two different types of air-cleaning solutions: portable mobile units and permanently installed systems. The mobile units come in three different sizes and are designed for small venues or school classrooms. These units run on 110v, 15-amp single-phase power. The permanent, duct-mounted units can be field installed and are customizable to be retrofitted for most existing air-handler units. The IVP product can also be designed for new air-handling systems.

 

The IVP units are quiet and require little or no maintenance. The primary biodefense media needs to be replaced only once every one to two years, depending on usage.

 

As building owners continue to make indoor air quality (IAQ) a top priority, the newest Tozour solution is improving indoor environmental quality, thus helping employees and students return to businesses and schools safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“We’re raising the standard for indoor air quality through science,” said Dr. Garrett Peel, IVP’s co-founder. “IVP is a biodefense system that kills actual airborne viruses and is proven to be 99.999% effective. This isn’t a purification system, but a technology to lead everyone out of this public health crisis.”

 

“IVP is a game changer and allows building owners to get people back to work quickly and, most importantly, safely” said Kevin Duffy, president of Tozour Energy Systems. “IVP’s mobile units and permanent duct-mounted systems align with Tozour’s Healthy Building’s initiative of providing clean, healthy and virus-free air for indoor spaces.”

 

Tozour Healthy Buildings encompasses all aspects of indoor environments, including air quality, filtration, ventilation, thermal health, humidity, lighting and more. The initiative provides advanced solutions, equipment, and controls to help owners and facility and operations managers assess, upgrade and maintain healthy buildings.

 

ABOUT INTEGRATED VIRAL PROTECTION (IVP)

 

Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) is a technology solutions company that specializes in the design of biodefense indoor air protection systems. Data from scientific peer-reviewed publications show significant promise for reducing the transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the air, safeguarding people against the dangerous, life-threatening pathogen. IVP has formed a public-private partnership with a team of renowned scientists, engineers, and virologists and collaborated to develop a promising biodefense indoor air protection system that combats airborne COVID-19 and other pathogens in commercial, transportation, residential and personal environments. For more information, please visit: www.IVPair.com.

 

ABOUT TOZOUR ENERGY SYSTEMS

 

Tozour Energy Systems is a full-service HVAC and building automation provider based in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and is a franchise of Trane, a business of Trane Technologies. The company provides customers with a diverse range of solutions, including building automation; HVAC mechanical services; energy conservation services; and parts, supplies and responsive technical support throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Named one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Philadelphia Business Journal, Tozour Energy Systems is a member of Green Building United. For more information, visit tozourenergy.com.

 

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My Healthy Home and Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) Collaborate to Eliminate Covid-19 in U.S. Homes

EIN PRESSWIRE – National Home Expert and CEO of My Healthy Home®, Caroline Blazovsky, has partnered with Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) as a distributor of their family of air-purification devices. IVP has emerged as the future of air filtration with a biodefense air protection system, scientifically proven to destroy COVID-19, Anthrax, and other pathogens with an effectiveness rate of 99.9999%. Founded by Monzer Hourani, IVP houses the only devices on the market with the ability to instantaneously “catch and kill” these viruses in one single pass without affecting the ambient air.


Blazovsky is nationally recognized as America’s Healthy Home Expert®. She is an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) professional, spokesperson and media personality for healthy homes. She is constantly seeking new technologies that will make homes healthier without any side effects. She is known for promoting cleaner indoor air quality and recognizes that IVP’s advancements in technology will help protect homes and families from viruses of all kinds.


“Many products make claims, but we need to know an air purification system really works in real time application,” says Blazovsky. “IVP has given us that data. We can make people safe in their homes again.”


Blazovsky founded the company My Healthy Home® in 2002 when she recognized the need for better air quality in residential environments. She will be adding IVP to her company’s product line to ensure homeowners are getting the proper technologies to fight COVID-19 in their homes.

 

Blazovsky has been featured by many platforms, including Forbes, Miami Herald, Shape Magazine, The Jenny McCarthy Show, Martha Stewart, House Smarts TV, Dr. Ronald Hoffman-Intelligent Medicine, SiriusXM, and Reader’s Digest, as well as countless podcasts, radio, and print interviews. IVP and Blazovsky are also featured this year at the Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA) 2021 Global Annual Meeting and Expo.


By distributing IVP’s family of devices, Blazovsky hopes to show homeowners how to regain safety in their living and work spaces and resume normal activities again.

 
IVP uses an FDA approved, patent-pending heated filter technology that is proven to kill airborne pathogens instantly. The technology is currently deployed in multiple mobile units of various sizes, or it can be installed into existing HVAC systems. The newest release, the T1 Travel Unit, is a personal, portable device perfect for homes, offices, airplanes, and more, offering a purification system that eliminates COVID-19 and other pathogens in one pass. The Travel Unit is only 10” h x 8” w, providing protection without taking up too much space.

 
“It offers a very innovative look and can modernize any home while also protecting all the occupants from dangerous contaminants like a virus,” says Blazovsky. 


To control COVID-19 transmission, Blazovsky also recommends controlling humidity in a space between 30-50%, and using low-VOC disinfection products in the home. She is available as a media expert for healthy home education.  

 

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How Creativity and Technology Drive the Future of Hospitality

HOTEL EXECUTIVE – While most in the hospitality sector are more than eager to leave 2020 in the rearview window, it was also a year that amplified innovative thinking, creative strategies, and new technologies within the industry that kept the most nimble of properties and players top of mind. And many of the steps taken to keep and attract guests will remain long after the return to business as usual.

 

The 354-room InterContinental Houston – Medical Center is reviewing its recent successes and challenges while also keeping an eye to the future. Located at the gateway to the world’s largest medical center – a destination that annually attracts thousands of patients and visitors from around the globe – and moments from top attractions ranging from a world-class museum district and Hermann Park to the Houston Zoo and Rice Village – is already thinking about a life after the coronavirus.

 

The acclaimed property lived a unique story in 2020 with experiences and actions essential to its success. Those components include preparation for the unknown, open communication with guests and local businesses, and a dedication to enhancing traveler safety and service.

 

Embracing Protocols

 

As a hospitality hub of the Texas Medical Center, it was vital for the hotel to stay open and accessible to medical staff, as well as visiting patients and their friends and families. Almost immediately, property management decided to assist the surrounding community in the best way it knew how, by providing top tier service to guests, but with a revised and refined protocol for cleanliness. This methodology, called the IHG Way of Clean, included deep cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants, face-covering requirements, minimizing or eliminating contact points in areas like check-in, and implementing procedures based on local authorities’ guidance, such as social distancing in public spaces and dining areas.

 

The IHG Way of Clean model also armed visitors with useful resources on local guidelines on the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a supply of masks and sanitation kits. Already a top stop for international clientele due to the strong pull of medical tourism, these actions further cemented the hotel as a premier destination in the Texas Medical Center for patients and medical staff alike.

Even with new vaccines already in the process of being distributed, the programs adopted at every level of the hotel from leadership and food and beverage to valet will undoubtably remain in place for the foreseeable future.

 

Debuting New to Market Tech

 

As the pandemic continued and escalated through the summer, property leadership sought a way to provide an even greater level of safety within its walls. In September, InterContinental Houston – Medical Center became the first hotel in the world to install the Integrated Viral Protection (IVP) Biodefense Indoor Air Protection Filtration System, a cutting-edge technology that greatly reduces the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by cleaning the air every 15 minutes, killing 99.999 percent of all airborne coronavirus.

 

Adding to the already comprehensive set of protocols set in place through the IHG Way of Clean, IVP was conceived by Houston-based entrepreneur Monzer Hourani in conjunction with scientists from the Superconductivity Center of Texas at the University of Houston, Galveston National Lab at the University of Texas Medical Branch, and the University of Texas A&M Engineering and Experiment Station. Hourani is also the founder of medically focused real estate development company, Medistar Corporation, which owns the hotel.

 

Built to eliminate SARS-CoV-2, anthrax spores, and other airborne contaminants by way of a heated filter that does not impact ambient air temperature, IVP mobile units were deployed throughout the hotel, servicing the main lobby, acclaimed Safina restaurant, the Naturalist Cafe & Lounge Bar, and a dedicated meeting and event floor spanning 18,000 square feet of function space.

 

This ongoing initiative has proven to be a much-appreciated step in providing guests and staff peace of mind and adds one more piece to a new playbook defined by 2020. The IVP platform is anticipated to grow on property as the company works towards the development of insertable filters for HVAC units.

 

Perking Things Up

 

The rise of the staycation as an important counter-COVID business strategy equated to local and drive market experiences playing an increased role in hotel marketing and sales. In late 2020, the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center launched its Guests Perks program in partnership with Rice Village, a neighboring amenity and one of Houston’s premier, pedestrian-oriented outdoor retail districts.

 

Providing exclusive offers for hotel visitors during their stay, the inaugural group of showcase retailers included independent, homegrown offerings, as well as top national brands such as Athleta, MAC Cosmetics, Madison Reed, Mendocino Farms, Sephora, Shake Shack, and White House Black Market.

 

Not only has Guest Perks been a success when it comes to guest satisfaction and community engagement, but it could not have come at a better time within the greater timeline of the pandemic. Tapping into the local economy, which has also suffered in 2020, the perks program has been a creative way to increase engagement at the hotel as well as at surrounding restaurants, shops and small businesses, while creating a stronger sense of place for the property.

 

Learning from Customers and Communication

 

Exceeding service expectations grows business and personal relationships with guests. While it should always be a top priority, customer service will play an even greater role in the year ahead and will directly correlate to a hotel’s success. A well-prepared staff and efficient systems enhance the guest stay, allowing the property to focus on each customer with engaging and genuine personalized service. Just as important as the overall experience is the hotel’s attention to minute details – an imperative at the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center given the sensitive needs of those guests and their relations managing serious health issues.

 

The InterContinental Houston – Medical Center has created an environment where feedback is welcomed and has seen improved guest engagement through targeted, open communication between visitors and staff members. The property motivates its team take input to heart, and to let guests know that such participation assists them in making improvements.

 

Encouraging honest guest reviews as part of an open dialog with their customers has led to more organic and helpful intel and has been a useful tool in driving exposure to potential business channels. At the height of the pandemic, the engaged communication between guests and staff members generated a wave of positive reviews on Tripadvisor, pushing the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center to the top 15 hotels recommended in the Greater Houston region in a matter of months – and ultimately the receipt of a Traveler’s Choice Award, bestowed to the top 10 percent of properties in the world for excellent service. In addition, the hotel has been named the best among InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in the U.S., Canada, and Caribbean in terms of guest satisfaction.

 

While the recognition itself is worthy, it’s also proof that the focus on the customer experience has created loyal guests who are now boosters for the hotel.

 

Checking in on 2021

 

Making necessary adjustments to existing hotel management systems and thinking creatively from a marketing and customer service standpoint will continue to play a role moving through 2021. The implementation of successful programs such as the IHG Way of Clean and Guest Perks shows a careful thoughtfulness for the immediate future and will help provide guests with both the confidence and incentive to travel again.

 

The distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine and easing of health guidelines forecasts a strong second half of 2021 with the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center situated to serve a variety of audiences. A return to an ordinary world will mean more guests working at, servicing, or receiving treatment at the Texas Medical Center, an increase in longer haul business and leisure travel and the return of major citywide events like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – the world’s largest livestock show and richest regular-season rodeo – at nearby NRG Center and the Offshore Technology Conference, just north on the METRORail at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

It is important not to leave growth to chance, so building on recent programs to increase and retain customer satisfaction remains a priority at the InterContinental Houston – Medical Center. A focus on further increasing the hotel’s reputation means investigating additional ways to use the space already available to them with enhancements eyed for the rooftop pool deck, the potential of health and wellness programming activities and more private dining experiences.

 

While there is light at the end of the tunnel, 2021 will not be without its challenges. With a vaccine and boosted traveler confidence comes a resurgence in demand for memorable stays. The InterContinental Houston – Medical Center is poised and prepared to serve the upscale travel sector within and outside of the medical market through curated guest experiences while embracing new technologies and marketing strategies that will be a permanent part of how business is conducted moving forward.

 

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