After one person had COVID-19 on a Princess Diamond cruise ship, 700 people caught it just weeks later—leading eight people to die. Why? The ship went under quarantine, and thousands of people were told to stay in their rooms.
One big problem seems to be shared, contaminated air. Every exhalation is sucked out a cruise ship room through the door, through cracks in the door, down the hallway (mixed with everyone else’s breath), into a central HVAC system, and … right back into passengers’ rooms.
But since the outbreak of SARS, Qingyan Chen, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, has spent his career researching better alternatives. He’s mathematically modeled how people cough, and he fit a 737 interior with dozens of sensor-laden mannequins to measure airflow and heat patterns. And he’s actually developed systems that could help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and other pathogens on ships, planes, buses, and more. With the right manufacturing partners, some could be ready within weeks.