BioBE Research Outlines Best Practices for Minimizing COVID-19 Transmission

March 19, 2020

Image of COVID-19 virus

Researchers from UO’s Biology and the Built Environment and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) moved quickly to write “2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: A review of the Current Literature and Built Environment (BE) Considerations to Reduce Transmission.”

Architecture Professor Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg and Architecture Research Assistant Professor Mark Fretz, of the School of Architecture & Environment, partnered with researchers from the CDC’s online pathogen identification database MicrobeNet.

The paper investigated how “the built environment—such as buildings, roads, public transport—can speed the transmission of pathogens like COVID-19 because it forces close interaction between individuals, features objects and materials that can transmit the disease, and can facilitate the airborne transfer of viral pathogens,” Architecture Magazine stated.

While still under review by Nature Communications and, a research publication platform, the researchers—according to Architect Magazine—published the report online to make the information available as soon as possible. 

The Washington Post has also covered the guidelines outlined by the report, including recommendations for air quality in hospitals.

"Van Den Wymelenberg and his colleagues suggest that hospitals consider humidifying their typically dry air. There’s some evidence that higher air humidity can reduce the viability and airborne transmission of certain kinds of viruses, including coronaviruses. Though more research is needed, aiming for a sweet spot of between 40 and 60 percent humidity might help curb covid-19 without fostering mold growth."

For more information, read the Architect Magazine article “Research Outlines Best Practices for Minimizing COVID-19 Transmission in the Built Environment” here.

Read the COVID-19 coverage featuring Van Den Wymelenberg in The Washington Post story "Pandemics spread in hospitals. Changes in design and protocols can save lives."

Or read the research paper at