Last week, the US Center For Disease Control (CDC) announced changes to its guidelines for parents, carers, schools and Early Care and Education programs.
In addition to advising people who have "symptoms of respiratory or gastrointestinal infections, such as cough, fever, sore throat, vomiting, or diarrhea" to stay home1, the CDC also recommended that children over the age of two wear masks whenever possible2.
This is not surprising because as the CDC notes, "COVID-19 can cause serious health problems, so it’s more important than ever to protect your child’s health."
Last week, the CDC also recommended new standards for ventilation and filtration in public buildings. The 7-point plan3 says:
- Aim for 5
Aim to deliver 5 or more air changes per hour (ACH) of clean air to rooms in your building. This will help reduce the number of viral particles in the air. You may need to use a combination of ventilation (air supply, filtration, and air treatment) strategies to reach this target.
- Upgrade filters
Use filters rated MERV-13 or higher, when possible. Using higher-rated filters in your heating or air conditioning system can remove more germs in the air than lower-rated filters.
- Turn your HVAC system "ON"
Set your ventilation system to circulate more air when people are in the building. You can do this by setting the thermostat’s fan control to the "ON" position instead of "AUTO." This will make the fan operate continuously but can increase fan energy use, so limit use to when needed.
- Add fresh air
Bring more clean outdoor air into spaces by opening windows and doors and using exhaust fans. Even small openings can help.
- Use air cleaners
Air cleaners (also known as air purifiers) filter air with high-efficiency filters that remove germs from the air. Choose one that’s the right size for your space.
- Install UV air treatment systems
UV air treatment systems can kill germs in the air. They can also provide a high level of effective air changes per hour while using little energy.
- Use portable carbon dioxide (CO2) monitors
A portable CO2 monitor can help you determine how stale or fresh the air is in rooms. Readings above 800 parts per million (ppm) suggest that you may need to bring more fresh, outdoor air into the space.
With growing evidence of the long-term harms of COVID-19 and the likelihood of ‘textbook’ harm to the immune system, it is not surprising the CDC is setting new standards to try to reduce transmission rates of a virus, which, thanks to a complacent international response, is not going away.
After years of ill-informed, speculative opinion pieces and social media commentary that said COVID-19 did not seriously affect children, new research4 adds to the existing body of evidence that suggests children experience the long-term impacts of infection at the same rate as adults, and that the risk does not diminish with subsequent reinfection.
With people more likely to dismiss children as ‘making a fuss’ or ‘malingering’ it is unsurprising their voices haven’t really been heard, but now, three years into the pandemic, major public health agencies are recognizing the harms of allowing widespread transmission of a SARS coronavirus and are asking individuals and organizations to play their part in reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and the harms of COVID-19.
If you’d like information on how you can reduce your risk of catching or spreading SARS-CoV-2, click here.