Special to Iredell Free News
RALEIGH — Nearly 4,000 air purifiers are being installed in the ductwork of 53 North Carolina prisons in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.
According to the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services, there have have 63 outbreaks of COVID-19 in correctional facilities resulting in 9,803 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 70 deaths.
“The health and safety of the staff and the offenders in our custody is our number one priority,” said Commissioner of Prisons Todd Ishee. “These devices will help to stop the airborne spread of the virus in our facilities and is another tool to use in our ongoing efforts to mitigate the impact of this awful virus.”
These “air ionizers” work by making the virus particles heavier and easier to filter.
The IWave air purifiers were bought last month at a cost of $1.8 million and are in the process of being installed in the ductwork in the facilities.
Around 20 percent of the installation has been completed and the project is anticipated to be finished by early February. Installation is being done by Prisons’ facility management staff with the assistance of staff in Central Engineering and the Department of Public Safety’s Office of Safety, Occupational and Environment Health.
IWave is an air purifying device that installs in any duct air conditioning system. When air passes over the IWave, ions produced by the device reduce pathogens, allergens, particles, smoke and odors in the air, creating a healthy environment without producing any harmful byproducts.
These air purifying systems are in use in a number of other prison systems across the country, including Missouri and South Carolina, as well as at Wake Forest and Duke universities and at Duke Medical Center.
“We look forward to seeing air quality benefits across North Carolina’s prison system for years to come,” Ishee said.