Broome County distributes air filters to schools, child care centers
Broome County schools, day cares, and child care centers have installed over 1,300 portable HEPA air filters to use this school year.
The air filters were distributed to 29 schools and child care centers in the county this summer. They are now up and running for the school year.
“This is something that can reduce exposure to not only COVID but those other respiratory viruses like influenza and RSV and the common cold, and other viruses that are airborne,” Broome County Public Health Director Mary McFadden said.
Health officials say HEPA filters are also helpful during other air quality events, such as smoke from wildfires.
McFadden said the portable HEPA air filters are especially useful because they don’t take up a lot of space.
“They're right there doing their thing protecting the health of students and staff within that classroom. And they don't realize it's happening. So it's a good thing,” McFadden said.
The air filters were purchased using New York state Department of Health grant funding Broome County received last spring. The filters also come just in time to address an uptick in COVID cases across the state.
Broome County saw a seven-day average of about 21 cases per 100,000 residents last week. That is still lower than case numbers were a year ago. But cases have been steadily sneaking up since July.
McFadden said it has become harder to trackCOVID cases because fewer people are testing. And if they do test positive, many don’t report that to their local health department.
Broome County is still tracking the spread of COVID through wastewater testing. McFadden said the health department is watching hospitalizations, which she said are slightly up. But at this point, she said it's not a cause for major concern.
“COVID is going to be around, you know, we want to get rid of it, but it doesn't want to get rid of us,” McFadden said. “So we just have to really learn how to live with it and how to be smart about protecting those who are immunocompromised and can't protect themselves.”