Problem Solvers: Protect yourself from COVID-spreading indoor gatherings during fall, winter

Problem Solvers

DENVER (KDVR) — As fall and winter approach, health officials are bracing for more indoor gatherings that will increase the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. Indoor dining is considered risky, but transmission can be avoided if proper precautions are taken, according to UCHealth experts.

Specific air heating and cooling system filters can help limit the amount of virus particles in the air. A certain type of filter is currently in high demand, according to Major Heating and Air Conditioning in Wheat Ridge.

“A MERV 13 filter is about … the same as an N-95 mask,” said Major Heating and Air Conditioning owner Jack Major. “It’s harder to move air through a MERV 13 filter, so if it gets dirty, we’re going to have to change that more often. Also, along with a MERV 13 filter, you run into making sure your equipment is operating properly.”

Major says it’s important to have your commercial or home system inspected to see if it can handle the extra filtration that can limit the spread of viruses.

Doctors now know the COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets and aerosol particles in the air. The mode of transmission is a big concern as people hunker down indoors to avoid cold weather.

Besides proper air ventilation, UCHealth experts are encouraging people to stay home when they are sick, avoid crowded places, distance greater than 6 feet, wash hands often and wear a mask when leaving home.

Newer research indicates mask wearing has a benefit to both the mask wearer and people around them, according to Dr. Daniel Pastula, a UCHealth neuro-infectious disease expert.

“There is still COVID-19 circulating in Colorado,” Pastula explained . “As the governor says, we may be done with the virus, but the virus isn’t done with us. I think throughout the fall and winter … we’re just going to need to be careful about things. For those of you [who] want to support your local restaurant but are a little hesitant about dining indoors … get takeout.”

Portable air purifiers can also help if an HVAC system cannot support MERV 13 filters.

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