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Implementing a Layered Approach to Address COVID-19 in Public Indoor Spaces

It is essential to implement a multifaceted, layered approach to reduce the risk of indoor airborne transmission of COVID-19. It is important to implement engineering controls, administrative controls, and space reconfiguration, adapted for the specific building and situation, to address COVID-19 in public indoor spaces, in addition to physical distancing, adequate ventilation, and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces, wearing masks, and other measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Consult guidance from CDCEXITEXIT EPA WEBSITE and local authorities on current guidelines on the use of masks.

The below measures should be considered in schools, offices, commercial buildings, and common areas of apartment buildings, mixed use buildings, and other public indoor spaces such as lobbies, sitting rooms, laundry rooms, and recreational rooms.

On this page:

  • Engineering Controls

  • Administrative Controls

  • Reconfiguration of Building Spaces and Furnishings

  • Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Additional Resources




Engineering Controls

Engineering controls are important components of a multilayered approach to reducing the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 in an individual building or space. The use of engineering controls such as ventilation and filtration will vary by building, depending in part on the type, age and capacity of a building’s HVAC systems.

Important engineering controls include:

  • Increasing outside-air ventilation to the maximum practical. Please visit Ventilation and Coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Increasing air filtration by filtering the air that is re-circulated through the building to remove as many aerosol particles (i.e. very small particles containing the virus) as possible. Increasing air filtration may include upgrading HVAC filters to MERV 13 (or the highest MERV rating a building’s ventilation system can accommodate) and placing portable air cleaners in areas that are hard to ventilate with outside air or that have high density or occupancy. Visit Air Cleaners, HVAC Filters, and Coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information.

  • Adjusting or reconfiguring air flows to minimize indoor airborne transmission of the virus between people. This may include such measures as exhausting all restrooms directly to the outside and redirecting airflows so that they do not blow directly from person to person, if feasible.

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