COVID-Related Facility Guidance
Do not enter closed facilities or workspaces without explicit authorization.
Link to Current List of Facility/Work Space Closures (UPDATED DAILY)
COVID-19 mitigation strategies for UNM facilities are guided by the Bringing Back the Pack initiative. This webpage provides additional guidance for the UNM community if a positive or suspected positive COVID-19 exposure occurs in campus facilities. Refer to the link above to see a current list of facilities that have been closed for cleaning and sanitization.
What to do if an employee or student reports a possible COVID-19 exposure in a facility:
- Managers and supervisors are to follow the guidance for potential employee exposure outlined in the Return to Campus Guide.
- Secure the exposed area(s) and post it for no entry. This may be the primary work area (i.e. office), classroom, building floor, or in extreme cases, the entire building.
- Notify the building’s responsible party (i.e. unit supervisor or department head).
- The responsible party contacts Facilities Management (FM) Work Control to create a work order (https://iservicedesk.unm.edu/home.html).
- Work Control will arrange for cleaning of exposed space.
- If the workspace has not been secured, Work Control will dispatch maintenance personnel to do so.
- Per CDC guidelines, the area must be secured for 72 hours prior to cleaning (24 hours in areas of critical to university functions)
- Reentry is not permitted during this time and will only be permitted upon receipt of an “All Clear” notification from Work Control
- Verify the status of the facility here.
1. Is the SARS 2 virus transferred as a droplet or an aerosol?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that COVID-19 is transferred predominately in a droplet form. The larger droplet form is what makes masks so effective in preventing transfer, wherein the masks are not very effective at filtering smaller aerosol particles such as smoke. Only clinical testing and treatments are believed to cause transfer in an aerosol form. Reference WHO “Modes of Transmission of Virus Causing COVID-19. Updated July 9, 2020.” This is an essential point in evaluating building HVAC systems.
2. Will the building HVAC system circulate the virus to other areas of the building?
If transmission is by an aerosol, then circulation through the building HVAC system is possible. However, a droplet form would be less likely to remain in the air long enough to be drawn into the building HVAC system. Again, this is the rationale behind social distancing to allow the droplets to fall to surfaces. The distancing and cleaning of surfaces is a response to reducing the incident of droplet transfer.
3. Does the building HVAC recirculate air from other building areas, or is it 100% outside air?
Generally, all building HVAC systems, with the exception of some laboratory and specialty spaces, will recirculate approximately 80%-90% of the airflow to each space.
4. Can air filters eliminate virus transfer?
The air filters at the building air handling unit are capable of containing virus droplet-sized particles in the unlikely event that they would reach the filter. However, these filters are not of the HEPA type that would eliminate smaller virus aerosols.
5. Will the amount of outside air being drawn into the building be increased?
Outside airflow to occupied spaces meets or exceeds the minimum circulation rates as recommended by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Increasing outside air during occupied hours beyond current levels is not possible without risking the loss of space temperature control. However, major building HVAC system controls are being modified to provide for a two-hours outside air flush-cycle during unoccupied times as per ASHRAE COVID-19 recommendations.
6. How often does the air change within building spaces?
This quantity differs significantly based upon space type, use and size. Generally, the air volume of a space will change every 6 to 15 minutes (between 4 and 10 air changes per hour).
7. Can portable HEPA filter units be used?
At a department’s discretion and cost, portable HEPA filter units may be provided for individual spaces as long as the room electrical circuits will allow for this additional load. The downside of using these units is that it causes a greater mixing and recirculation of air within the space and may increase the speed of virus transfer initially.
Once a work order is received, for personal safety, custodial staff will 72 hours prior to entry into the exposed space. Per the CDC, this isolation period should effectively eliminate the virus. After 72 hours, staff will perform a deep cleaning of all room surfaces using Mark 11 disinfectant to eliminate any remaining traces of the virus. If the nature of the exposure dictates, custodial staff may also use a Total 360 sanitization system which employs an electrostatic mist to provide full coverage of surfaces.