COLUMBUS – A $28 million federally funded program launched last week to weaken COVID-19’s spread among older Ohioans has added a reimbursable expense for improvements to heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in nursing homes, assisted living centers and adult day centers.

Administered by the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), the COVID-19 Indoor Air Quality Assistance Program will reimburse these facilities for installing secondary devices designed to destroy bacteria, mold and viruses, such as bi-polar ionization and ultraviolet light units.

“These devices complement HVAC systems that are already providing proper ventilation and filtration,” said BWC Interim Administrator/CEO John Logue. “We’re fighting a deadly virus, after all, so it just makes sense to reimburse for this equipment.”

Logue stressed the secondary equipment does not take the place of properly operating and maintained HVAC systems, the primary goal of the assistance program.

Funded through federal CARES (Coronavirus, Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act dollars, the program reimburses air quality improvements implemented on or after March 1 through Dec. 30 this year. Eligible entities will receive up to $15,000 to inspect and assess their air quality needs and to address those needs through portable air filtration systems, new filtration systems, maintenance on current systems and other interventions.

“Ensuring older Ohioans have the healthiest possible environment is critical,” said Ohio Department of Aging Director Ursel McElroy. “Indoor air filtration and quality is an important tactic that, coupled with other infectious disease control efforts, can help protect our most at-risk citizens. We are thankful for the team at BWC and their outstanding work in getting this program in place.”

The CARES Act allows states to use federal funding from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund for necessary expenditures incurred by the state due to COVID-19 that were not authorized as part of the state budget. Gov. Mike DeWine asked BWC to administer the Indoor Air Quality Assistance Program because of its expertise administering millions of dollars a year in grants that help employers improve workplace safety.

(Information courtesy of Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation.)


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