Ask A Doctor: Could Upgrades To HVAC Systems Help Businesses Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19?

A UT Health San Antonio physician answers listeners’ questions about their health during the coronavirus pandemic.

By Michael MarksSeptember 1, 2020 2:55 pm,

In this installment of Ask a Doctor, UT Health San Antonio physician Dr. Fred Campbell answers more of Texas Standard listeners’ most pressing questions about the coronavirus.

Why is there so much emphasis on hand-washing if you’re more likely to contract COVID-19 from someone’s sneeze or cough?

Hand-washing is important for preventing the spread of any diseases. But Campbell said it might have been overstated as a preventative measure for COVID-19. He said hand-washing is likely most effective if you’ve had direct contact with someone with the disease. And hand-washing is just as good, if not better, than alcohol-based sanitizing gels.

Is it clear yet whether you can get COVID-19 more than once?

There are now confirmed cases of people who’ve contracted COVID-19 a second time since the pandemic started.  Researchers are still trying to understand how and why this happens, but Campbell said it could be related to the amount of antibodies someone develops when they contract the disease the first time.

Should businesses be encouraged to upgrade their ventilation systems, or install UV lights, to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

In general, more light and better air circulation are helpful for minimizing the spread of COVID-19. That’s why it’s recommended to do activities outdoors as much as possible, especially if you’re going to be around other people. But Campbell said there’s not enough research to show definitively whether certain types of air or lighting equipment installed indoors can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Theoretically, that would be a beneficial thing, however, I cannot, with any certainty at this point in time, point to evidence that it is reducing the transmission of COVID-19,” Campbell said.

He said unless there’s good evidence, businesses should wait to go to the trouble and the expense.

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