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New technology could change how your home looks when it comes to COVID-19

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-29 19:28:45-04

A combination of creativity in design and the materials that make up surfaces inside our homes could help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

There are so many surfaces to touch inside any home, between the light switches, countertops, fabrics and handles, making it incredibly easy to spread germs to the people we live with.

"Low-tech and high-tech are both coming together to limit the spread of the disease," said Brickhaus Partners Designer and Selections Coordinator Allesandro Ravagnan.

Brickhaus Partners Developer Andrew Brickman said his company is looking at all options for their building projects while they search for ways to make homes safer during and after the coronavirus outbreak.

"This is a work in progress," Brickman said. "Because a lot of these are new technologies."

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Treated copper and brass surfaces and handles could be a lot easier to sanitize in homes.

Options range from special tiles and countertops to treated copper and brass handles that make those high-touch areas easier to sanitize.

"The tiles actually have an active process in them that kills bacteria and microbes," Brickman said.

Automatic doors would also be a good option and higher-tech versions with special sensors to open only for people who have proper clearance offer an increased level of security.

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Wearable or small sensors could allow residents to enter a door that opens automatically for people with the right sensor while not opening for people who don't have permission to enter.

"You don't have to touch the key, you don't have to touch the entryway, you don't have to touch the handle," Brickman said.

For apartment hunters like Brittany Powell, this is a welcome glimpse into the future.

"It's kinda like a sci-fi type thing," Powell said while talking about these COVID-related improvements.

She's moving into a new apartment soon but she knows when she has to care for her seven-year-old sister, cleaning means safety.

"[I'll be] wiping down everything, making sure she washes her hands, making sure my hands are clean," Powell said.

She likes the improvements especially as Ohio prepares for what could be a second coronavirus spike in the fall.

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Automatic doors are common at retail locations but could become more common in homes trying to reduce high-touch surfaces.

"That's honestly great because it can lower the rates of disease or basic colds coming from the winter, spring, fall, just year-round," said Powell.

"We think that there's going to be demand for this kind of safety and this type of design," Brickman said.

The biggest impact might come from how heating and air systems are designed.

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Individual HVAC units for each condo or townhome could help reduce the spread of disease between neighbors.

We reported on how developer Fred Geis altered the design for The Avian office building on Scranton Penninsula, including additional HVAC units. The change allows different parts of the building to have separate HVAC units, trying to stop the spread of disease throughout the building.

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Renderings show what the new office space could look like.

Brickhaus Partners is considering a similar move in its condos and townhomes, potentially supplying separate HVAC units for each living space.

"If you do get infected, if you do have this bacteria in your home, it's not going to spread to your neighbors or anything like that," said Brickhaus Intern David Perovsek.

If you want to make your house as safe as possible without a huge renovation, experts recommend:

  • Cleaning off all dirt before you try to use a disinfectant on tables and countertops. Then letting that surface sit undisturbed for a few minutes for the disinfectant to work.
  • Putting covers on high-tough areas so they are easier to clean off.
  • Washing your hands as much as possible and leaving small bottles of hand sanitizer near entrances to clean off germs.

This story is part of The Rebound: Northeast Ohio, News 5's initiative to help people through the financial impact of the coronavirus by offering one place to go for information on everything available to help and how to access it. We're providing resources on:

Getting Back to Work - Learn about the latest job openings, how to file for benefits and succeed in the job market.

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Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.