COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, a new projection shows that the U.S. could lose 100,000 more lives to the disease by October. Testing will remain key to tracking its spread, and protective gear will continue to be essential for healthcare workers on the front lines. But can we do even better at protecting them? Maybe.
Cannondesign, an architectural firm known for its work in healthcare, has developed what it’s dubbed the COVID Shield. It’s essentially a form of personal protective equipment (PPE) that healthcare workers can stand inside when testing for COVID-19. The system is a three-sided modular room, which can be rapidly deployed outside for mass testing. The healthcare provider stands inside and reaches through integrated gloves to test the patient. So while it doesn’t eliminate face-to-face contact, there is a barrier between doctor and patient to prevent droplet transmission. In this sense, it’s almost like a face shield that’s been supersized to phone booth proportions.
With a design informed by conversations with COVID-19 unit nurses and infection control planners, the COVID Shield itself weighs 185 pounds and is constructed primarily from an aluminum frame, polycarbonate panels, and nitrate gloves. Multiple Shields can be chained together to create a long testing facility (with proper social distance offered between lines). The Shield can also be decorated with printed films, meaning that it can blend in more intentionally with its setting than your typical pop-up tent, in order to reduce any stigma around public testing.
While the Shield doesn’t look like much—essentially, it’s just a box, after all—Cannondesign claims this system is durable and can operate for years with regular cleaning cycles. And ideally, it will allow healthcare professionals to use fewer other items of PPE or to enhance the protection provided by their standard gear.
If your organization would like a COVID Shield, Cannondesign is licensing the plans starting at $1,500. The materials to build the device will cost up to $3,000 per unit (plus a few hundred extra if you add vinyl signage), but assembly takes two people only 90 minutes using typical shop tools, so it’s a rapidly deployable solution for organizations that have access to facility teams. You can learn more here.