Skip to main content

COVID questions: Disabilities, ventilation systems

October 22, 2020 By Kristina LeVan

Editor’s note: We will be publishing answers to questions about COVID-19 and the pandemic each week in this COVID questions column. If you have a question, please email it to

Q: How are the pandemic and shelter at home changes impacting people with disabilities, now and into the future?

A: Alice Wong, a disability community activist, calls disabled people “modern day oracles.” So many of the accommodations that were made around coronavirus —online classes or jobs, virtual social events, curbside food pickup — are things that disabled people have been advocating for, long before the pandemic. I really believe that if we let people who are most marginalized by our current systems lead and change those systems, we can build a new world after the pandemic.

– Carlyn Mueller, Assistant Professor, Rehabilitation Psychology & Special Education in the School of Education

Q: Since the virus started, I have been wondering if anyone is doing research on testing the ventilation system in apartments, condominiums, schools, nursing homes, correctional facilities and other buildings? 

A: There is evidence that suggests the “fate in transport” of SARS-CoV-2 through an air handling system is low risk.  A larger risk of transmission is via airborne route within a given space when one or more people are actively shedding respiratory particulates that contains the virus.

– Douglas Reindl, Professor, engineering professional development, mechanical engineering; director, Industrial Refrigeration Consortium

See more answers to COVID questions at Also, visit our COVID-19 impact site.