top of page

Lt. Governor's ideas on COVID rejected.

From Brent Regan's Facebook page:

New technology to deal with COVID-19 in Idaho.

I recently participated in a meeting (ZOOM) with the Lt. Governor and representatives from ExtremeCubes Manufacturing to discuss available solutions to address specific issues presented by COVID-19. My role in the meeting was to advise the Lt. Governor with regard to technological aspects of the presentation.

Three technologies were presented:

1) Rapid deployment, prefabricated buildings specifically configured for the needs of COVID -19 critical patients. One of these structures would double the critical care capacity of Kootenai hospital and if hospital capacity is truly the limiting factor requiring economic lockdown then the cost of the structure ($350/SF) is tiny compared to the lost revenue induced by economic restrictions.

2) High volume, portable HEPA and UV air purification systems. These units operate continuously in public spaces to sanitize the air of aerosol particulate.

3) Walk through sanitization system. These units were designed to the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) specification for a Personal Sanitation Enclosure and provide surface sanitation. They utilize a dry mist which has proven highly effective. The person walks through and all surfaces, including the soles of shoes, are sanitized. The disinfectant is in much lower concentration than fond in hand sanitizer.

Upon hearing about the air and surface sanitization systems I immediately thought about the upcoming session and the influx of legislators and visitors from all across the state. One could imagine placing these portals at the east and west ends of the capitol along with infrared temperature detectors screening entrants as well as air sanitation units distributed throughout the building. While none of these measures is perfect, the cumulative effect could be significant.

Any person trained in sterile procedure appreciates the inadequacy of simply telling people to wash their hands, don't touch things, and put a piece of cloth over their mouths, to mitigate viral transmission. We have seen even the most fervent advocates of masks become infected, proving that there is no one "magic bullet" solution. Individual, object, and space sanitization are all needed to mitigate spread.

Based on these concepts, the Lt. Governor made a proposal to the Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee. Unfortunately, the renowned infectious disease specialist Betsy Russell opted to politicize the issue. In her article she cites "studies" claiming such systems are ineffective. However, review of the actual papers show that they are not studies at all, but rather opinions authored by a microbiologist and a psychiatrist and not experts in disease transmission and mitigation. Compounding the rhetoric, Nobel Prize winning CORONA expert and candidate, Luke Malek, tweeted about how the proposal was ridiculous because the virus is not transmitted on peoples' feet. Apparently Dr. Malek believes that floors are intrinsically sterile.

Keep in mind too that the proposed system is not a shower head spraying bleach on passing pedestrians in rural India. It is a domestically engineered and optimized system which has been successfully deployed into multiple locations.

As an engineer I appreciate that the difference in filtration efficiency between having no mask and a cotton bandana is ten times smaller than the difference in filtration between a bandana and an N95 rated respirator. As a result of this, and a poor seal between the covering and the face, most "face coverings" are useless in remediating the emission of virons during a cough or sneeze. Recent randomized trials support this assertion.

If we are to mitigate a outbreak during the upcoming session, something more than face coverings and fist bumps may be needed. I applaud the Lt. Governors foresight in considering viable alternatives.



bottom of page