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Nursing homes install air cleaning systems that kill COVID-19

Needlepoint bipolar ionization machines are going into two Utah nursing homes. They use ions to kill COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses. (Photo: KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY – Two nursing homes near Salt Lake City are installing an air purifying system that can get rid of COVID-19. 

The Ridge Foothill and Cottonwood COO, Mandy Hampton, said the machines use needlepoint ionization technology, which sends millions of ions into the air. 

“And they seek out bad particles in the air. That could be COVID[-19], it could be norovirus, the flu, smog,” Hampton says. “It attaches to these particles, and then it deactivates them.” 

After testing the system at a sister facility in Denver, the machines were found to be 99.4% effective at killing COVID-19. 

“Once we found this technology, we realized that this is an investment long-term in the health and safety of our residents and staff members. Our demographic is typically in the mid-80s,” Hampton said. “So, COVID[-19], if it takes hold in a residence, it can be very, very serious.” 

Hampton said they had looked at UV light machines, but that using ions to purify the air is more effective. The air purifiers will also cost less over time because they do not need to be changed out as often.

However, the facilities are still spending $500,000 to install them. 

Nursing homes have been the source of major outbreaks of COVID-19 across the country, as well as a large chunk of deaths. Many scientists think ventilation systems play a role. 

Beyond COVID-19, Hampton believes purifying the air will help nursing home residents in the years to come. 

“Being able to have this tool in our toolbox, it sets us up for success for anything that comes in the future. We know that norovirus happens every year, the flu happens every year. So, regardless of COVID[-19], this is the right thing to do for the staff and residents,” Hampton said.

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How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus spreads person to person, similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wear a mask to protect yourself and others per CDC recommendations.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet).
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities).
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A 

Utah’s Coronavirus Information 

Utah State Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States