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Ventilation in Church Spaces

Ventilation and Church Spaces

On October 5, 2020, CDC issued updated guidance to its How it Spreads website, which includes information about the potential for airborne spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.

CDC continues to believe, based on current science, that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with COVID-19.  Today’s update acknowledges the existence of some published reports showing limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area.  In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise.  Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles.

CDC’s recommendations remain the same based on existing science and after a thorough technical review of the guidance.

How to Protect Yourself and Others

People can protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 by staying at least 6 feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning touched surfaces often and staying home when sick.

What this Means for You

Because of the role airborne transmission plays in spreading COVID-19, good ventilation of indoor spaces is key. While this document will provide guidance for mitigating the risks associated with poorly ventilated areas, we encourage you to avoid using such spaces during the COVID-19 crisis and seek alternative meeting spaces with adequate ventilation.

Ventilation is the intentional introduction of fresh air into a space while the stale air is removed. It is done to maintain the quality of air in that space. Below are steps to consider which can improve indoor ventilation. These steps should be considered in consultation with a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional.

Open windows and doors to increase air flow

  • Open windows on opposite walls to achieve cross ventilation

Use fans, but use them wisely

  • Take heed: if positioned incorrectly, your fans can contribute to the super spreader effect.
  • If possible, install fans in windows, but position them so that they DO NOT directly blow air from one person to another. Twin fans with reversible air flow controls are best, but if you do not have these, position fans so that one is bringing air in from one window while another is pushing air out from another.
  • Do not use fans, such as floor fans that blow air directly across the attendees.
  • Ceiling circulating fans and ductless AC units are acceptable.

Invest in an air purifier

Depending on the model, portable purifiers with HEPA filters can produce several air changes per hour. Most filter only small spaces but would be ideal for meeting rooms and parish and school offices. Change HEPA filters regularly while wearing a mask, goggles and gloves.

Upgrade your air conditioning filters

Choose HVAC filters that can remove a large portion of airborne particles, such as a MERV 13. Have a plan in place to clean and disinfect air filters on a regular basis.

Increase Outdoor Air

Increase the HVAC systems supply of outdoor air, to as much as the system can handle, in order to reduce reliance on recirculated air.

In addition, remember to adhere to the social distancing guidelines of at least six feet, require that masks be worn at all times, and do not exceed the occupancy limitations issued by the Commonwealth or your local authorities. Where ventilation is considered limited or poor, we recommend increasing the distancing to at least eight feet (8’) or utilizing alternative space.

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