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University has $170 solution to Trump-Biden debate COVID fears

If two professors from the University of Maryland get their way, President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden can debate in person, live, and safely — all for the cost of a K Street lunch.



Ann Grevelius sitting at a desk in front of a laptop: Soprano Allison Hughes, director of the College Park Chorale, participates in tests at the University of Maryland's City@UMD laboratory in College Park, MD. A research team led by UMD professors Jelena Srebric and Donald Milton is developing ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during public events, such as musical performances or political debates.


© Photo courtesy University of Maryland/Robert Herschbach
Soprano Allison Hughes, director of the College Park Chorale, participates in tests at the University of Maryland’s [email protected] laboratory in College Park, MD. A research team led by UMD professors Jelena Srebric and Donald Milton is developing ways to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during public events, such as musical performances or political debates.

It sounds weird, but their idea is to put box fans, adapted with furnace filters, on either side of their mouth to capture aerosol droplets. One fan would blow across their mouth, the other sucking that air away.

In tests, it was 50% effective in capturing the spray, the same as an M-95 mask, according to mechanical engineering Professor Jelena Srebric.

Srebric and Environmental Health Professor Donald Milton have been studying the flow of the particulates in rooms and for live entertainers.

But now in a letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates, they’ve turned to the Biden-Trump clashes and just in time since the president has contracted COVID-19 and the commission has suggested virtual debates instead of live encounters, which Trump has rejected.

“We are trying to solve the bigger problem of what’s happening at these debates,” Milton told Secrets.

“Our research identified an inexpensive solution that can protect the participants on stage and in the audience using air filtration and airflow directed in a way that efficiently captures airborne particles. Localized filtration and well controlled airflow can provide more effective protection of the participants than a barrier,” wrote the duo.

They explained, “We recently tested this system with a person singing, using simple components from a hardware store: a box fan, HEPA air filter and duct tape. We found that it reduced the particle concentration in air by 50%.” The cost was about $170.

Srebric said, “your own breath is being cleaned” in their system.

The commission, today in a tug-of-war with the Trump and Biden campaigns over the next debate, had no immediate comment.

Tags: Washington Secrets, 2020 Elections, Joe Biden, Coronavirus, Debates, VP Debate

Original Author: Paul Bedard

Original Location: University has $170 solution to Trump-Biden debate COVID fears

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