Is it safe to use an elevator during the pandemic?


FARMINGTON, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s no surprise a brand new touchless elevator is already on display at Foxwoods Casino.

Farmington-based Otis Worldwide first developed the commonly used so-called “safety elevator.” They’ve been at it for more than a century and a half. But how safe are these elevators in times of COVID?

“The risk of transmission of the virus while riding in an elevator while properly masked is relatively low,” said Robin Fiala, Otis Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “In fact, it’s no different than going to your local downtown grocery store. It’s actually safer than outdoor dining.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials point to respiratory droplets on surfaces that spread COVID.

“Everywhere your hands can go, the virus can go to, from keyboards to patient beds to elevator buttons,” said the CDC’s Dr. Abby Carlson.

Federal officials also said people should socially distance, which can be nearly impossible on a cramped elevator.

So, Otis took matters into its own hands, commissioning a study by Purdue University experts in indoor air quality. They found the risk relatively low, especially when riders are masked.

For one, building code requires elevators to have openings in the cabinet.

“As it’s moving throughout the day and the building it actually creates a lot of natural airflow,” Fiala explained.

Couple that with the fact that people are usually only on elevators for a matter of seconds or minutes.

Now, Otis’ team is going further and adding air purification.

Fiala added, “Essentially just breaks down the particles of the virus and further reduces the risk of transmission.”

But the key to all these findings — using face masks. The study found that mask use plus air purification combined reduced exposure by up to 65%.

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