Good Morning America Highlights the College of Design’s COVID-19 Research

July 28, 2020

Graphic of covid-19 testing in buildings

Researchers at the UO’s Institute for Health in the Built Environment (IHBE) have found that testing buildings for COVID-19 could be a more effective way to mitigate the virus.

“We can’t test every person every day, but we can test every building every day. In addition, buildings are being tested and results arrive in 24 hours and can help guide actions the next day or building operations, controls, or contact tracing,” Architecture Professor Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg said during an interview with Good Morning America and ABC News. Van Den Wymelenberg is also the director IHBE and the Biology in the Built Environment Center (BioBE).

Kevin Van Den Wymelenberg on Good Morning America In the video, Van Den Wymelenberg demonstrates how they collect samples on campus. Led by Van Den Wymelenberg, IHBE and BioBE researchers have been investigating how indoor air flow transports the virus, including testing air ducts, surfaces, and particles in the air. With that information, people can potentially limit the spread of the virus by adapting air filtration systems and disinfecting methods. Van Den Wymelenberg told ABC News that school districts have already inquired about their research and how they could apply it to school buildings in order to bring students back safely.

“I think the concept of using modern testing for COVID-19 infectious virus in buildings is a good hypothesis,” he said. “I think it's worth trying. It could be a very valuable tool in the toolbox. However, my biggest concern would be we don't want it to replace [other precautions]. We don’t want it to give a false sense of security that would lead folks to think they don't have to wear masks or social distance or do proper hygiene with soap and water and hand sanitizer.”

Learn more by reading the article and watching the video at the ABC News site.