To empower business owners to remain open for business, at will, in times of pandemics and epidemics from airborne pathogens.
Personal to the CDC: ALL Businesses Are Essential
To the bureaucrat who is not a baseball fan, baseball stadiums are not essential. But, all businesses ae essential to the people who need and want the services provided, to the investors and owners who stand to lose their investments of capital, both monetary and personal, and to the employees who pay the rent and feed their families. Unemployment affects those who remain gainfully employed through inflation, burnout, reduced wages, and more.
Airborne Pathogen Threats to Public Health
- SARS-CoV-2 (aka COVID19)
- SARS-CoV-2 variants of interest (VOI) [WHO]
- SARS-CoV1 variants of concern (VOC) [WHO]
- Influenza: seasonal, pandemic, avian, swine, in animals
In March 2020, I discussed the issue of airborne contagion with certain people at Rockwall County Commissioners Court. My two assertions, (1) transmission is chiefly by airborne virus carried aloft by aerosols, not droplets, and (2) the fear in effect at the time was disproportionate to the actual threat, were met with skepticism. One friend accused me of a ‘cavalier attitude’. This same friend later changed his opinion of me and began sending links to news stories covering the pandemic.
I applaud two community leaders, County Judge David Sweet and former Rockwall Mayor Jim Pruitt who listened to my ideas and acted upon them.
Remedial and Preventive Actions
SARS stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Why is the word ‘respiratory’ important? 100% of all respiratory infections are caused by airborne pathogens. A syndrome is a group of symptoms that together are signs of a certain specific disorder or disease — most commonly a dry cough, fever, dyspnea, fatigue and bilateral lung infiltrates on imaging in the severe cases
Ventilation is the number one action a business can employ to dramatically protect both employees and customers from transmitting airborne infections. All commercial, industrial, and medical code-compliant HVAC systems feature one of several methods of mechanical ventilation. To learn about the several ventilation methods, look to IAQ: Ventilation.
Both the State of Texas and the City of Rockwall adopt the 2015 International Mechanical Code. The Texas Mechanical Code, Chapter 4, says, “This chapter shall govern the ventilation of spaces within a building intended to be occupied.” I propose a substitution the word will for shall to eliminate ambiguity. The word will creates a contractual obligation. Legal counsel may suggest the word must in lieu of shall.
Medical — Hospitals and Outpatient Facilities
Although this category is a distinctly different class of buildings from commercial buildings but we know from the facts of deaths in Rockwall County attributed to COVID19, nursing homes must also be accountable for ventilation, pressurization, and filtration to protect the most vulnerable residents of our community.
Enforcement of this code is absolutely essential for the health and wellbeing of nursing home patients. The Administrative Code, unlike the Mechanical Code, stipulates the maintenance of differential pressure between critical areas.
As with hospitals, nursing homes should be tested annually for compliance with ventilation and differential-pressure standards.
I reference my report of June 10, 2020 to City Manager Rick Crowley and my verbal report on my review of the Broadmoor Medical Lodge design documents. This facility was constructed like a hotel and its design reflects the mechanical code for commercial buildings.
Legal Protection from Lawsuits
I propose legal protections be extended to businesses that verifiably apply the Chapter 4 standards and enlist an independent Test and Balance (TAB) contractor to annually verify compliance. There is not time to introduce a bill to the Texas Legislature this 2021 session. Is it possible to get a ruling from the Texas Attorney General that would limit or exempt code-compliant businesses from lawsuits arising from a person or persons claiming infection from an airborne infection as a consequence of patronizing a business?
Under the direction of legal counsel, businesses certified to be in compliance with either the State Mechanical Code and/or the Texas Administrative Code should post a disclaimer at each building entry, perhaps similar to the Six Flags COVID-19 liability disclaimer.
- Engineered Air Balance (Richardson) Certifications: AABC, ACG
- Test, Adjust, Balance Company, Inc. — TAB Co (Irving) Certifications: NEBB
- AccuSpec Engineering, LLC (Dallas) Certifications: NEBB, ACG, AABC
- Online Air Balancing Services (Houston) Certifications: AABC, NEBB
Independent contractor means a contractor not also engaged in installation, maintenance, repairs to the HVAC equipment. This reinforces objectivity on the part of the TAB company.
Compulsory or Voluntary?
Whether the Mechanical Code and the Administrative Code are made compulsory or left to the status quo, the issue of public confidence and limited liability remain top-of-the-list concerns.
Annual certification or semi-annual, I suggest a certificate of compliance that can be conspicuously posted at each entry to the affected facilities to assure occupants (employees, vendors, service company employees, and customers) can choose to enter at their own risk with level of confidence.
One feature to minimize the cost of verification of compliance for commercial property owners is optional electronic airflow measuring stations (AFMS) with digital indicators within the administrative office where the facility manager can self-verify compliance of the Mechanical Code. All electronic AFMS must be tested and calibrated by a certified independent TAB contractor at five-year intervals.
Who is qualified to lead?
Business owners are inherently leaders, decision makers. Not so government bureaucrats.
Defense Against Bureaucratic Tyranny
In December 2020, San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil ruled that two San Diego strip clubs can remain open during California’s coronavirus lockdown. Why were the owners of Pacers Showgirls International and Cheetahs Gentlemen’s Club in San Diego allowed to remain open, contrary Gov. Gavin Newson’s executive order? Those business owners acted as leaders. They developed and published policies to protect employees and customers from COVID-19 infection.
San Diego restaurants also benefited from the ruling and can remain open.
“The judge ascertained that both clubs operated for five weeks during the pandemic, and instituted safety measures to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. The establishments maintained a distance of 15 feet between strippers and tables, required employees to wear face masks, and did not permit more than one stripper per stage at a time. Judge Wohlfeil added that the ruling for strip clubs also applied to San Diego County businesses with restaurant services making them exempt from shutdowns. source
Snicker as you may, understand the point: When business leaders take the initiative to make sensible policy, they can and will defeat the simplistic edicts of the tyrannical bureaucrats.
Flu Vaccination & COVID-19 Prevention Measures Likely Contributed to Low Flu Activity Last Season Implication: the COVID-19 restrictions will be imposed on Americans for many years. If un-elected bureaucrats control America as they have over the past year, they will repeat their tyrannical mask-erade and arbitrary classifications of essential and non-essential businesses.
Facility Guidelines Institute is the authoritative source for guidance on health and residential care facility planning, design, and construction in the United States.
Guidelines for Design and Construction of Residential Health, Care, and Support Facilities Minimum recommended program, space, risk assessment, architectural detail, and surface and built-in furnishing needs for nursing homes, hospice facilities, independent and assisted living facilities, and related non-residential support facilities, including wellness centers, day care facilities, and rehabilitation centers.
Engineered Systems Magazine: Air Distribution in Critical Facilities
“Mechanical ventilation systems are the primary mechanism for controlling airborne infections in hospital environments. The goals of ventilation systems are to replace contaminated air with clean air, minimize the mixing of dirty and clean air, and regulate ambient temperature and humidity. One of the most important requirements of airflow systems in critical spaces is to maintain the pressure relationships that are required by the ANSI/ASHRAE/ASHE 170 Guidelines in all modes of operation.”