ORLANDO, Fla. — We've seen the stories: one person gets COVID, then the entire household has it.
But are there precautions that can reduce the spread of infection within the home?
"We found it was actually relatively simple to create a homemade isolation space that achieves the same differential pressure target that you might find in a hospital-grade isolation space," said Eric Martin, a program director at FSEC Energy Research in Florida.
They tested 17 different isolation room configurations to find the best way to reduce aerosol particles from spreading throughout the house.
The best and most cost-effective configuration they found was using a bedroom with an attached bathroom.
- Seal off the heating and cooling duct work going into the room
- Keep the door to the bedroom closed
- In the bathroom run the exhaust fan
"If the flow in the exhaust fan is not adequate, then people can also use a portable window fan that could pull air from the isolation space to the outside," said Tanvir Khan, an FSEC post-doctoral researcher.
So how can you tell if a homemade isolation zone is working successfully?
"So, if you put that tissue down in front of that opening and you're in the isolation zone, that tissue should be blowing in towards you," added Senior Research Analyst Charles Withers.
And not blowing virus particles to other areas in the house.
"What we've got here is something that most people on their own can take measures to at least improve keeping others safe in the house," said Withers.
The researchers said the isolation room is best used in a detached single-family home.
In an apartment or multifamily building, the negative pressure that's created to generate an effective isolation space could result in drawing in air from adjacent units.