WHO Updates Brief on COVID-19 Transmission

World Health Organization Updates Scientific Brief on Coronavirus Transmission 

On July 9th, the World Health Organization (WHO) updated its March 29th Scientific Brief entitled, "Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: implications for infection prevention and control (IPC) precaution recommendations." The document acknowledges there is emerging evidence that suggests that the coronavirus could be spread through airborne transmission, which has important implications for HVAC system design and use. It is thought this update was motivated by an open letter sent to the WHO by 239 scientists from 32 countries, which outlines the evidence for airborne transmission of the coronavirus. On April 20, ASHRAE issued a statement on the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.


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US House advances Appropriation Bills

U.S. House of Representatives Advances Appropriations Bills  
The House of Representatives began considering 12 annual appropriations bills by grouping them together into "minibuses," a strategy of combining several bills into one. The first minibus is expected to be voted on at the end of this week and comprises four appropriations bills, including funding for State & Foreign Operations; Military Construction & Veterans Affairs; Agriculture; and Interior & Environment.

Next week, the House is planning to consider a minibus comprised of seven appropriations bills with funding for Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Energy & Water Development, Financial Service & General Government, Homeland Security, Labor-HHS-Education, and Transportation-Housing & Urban Development. The Energy and Water section of the minibus provides a total of $41 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE), an increase of $2.3 billion above last year’s level and $5.1 billion above the President’s budget request. Funding of $2.85 billion is provided for DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office, which is an increase of $58 million above the FY 2020 level. 

Additionally, to support economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, the bill provides emergency funding, including another $7.78 billion for the EERE office to deploy energy efficient and clean energy infrastructure throughout the country, and ensure that low-income households across the country have energy-efficient, more livable homes. DOE’s Office of Electricity would also be provided $3.35 billion to enhance the resilience, reliability and security of electric grid infrastructure.

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White House rules on NEPA

White House Issues Final Rule for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) 
The White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has issued its final rule updating regulations for Federal agencies to implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires them to conduct environmental assessments for projects. Changes include:
  • A time limit of one year for environmental assessments (EA) and two years for environmental impact statements (EIS). 
  • Elimination of the requirement to consider "cumulative effects" and removing any reference to "indirect effects."
  • 75-page limit for EAs and a presumptive 150-page limit for EISs. 
The rule proposal received over a million comments when it was issued earlier this year and is likely to face legal challenges. Click here to read the NEPA Factsheet and click here to read the Final Rule that will go in effect on September 14, 2020.


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SC School Guidance includes ASHRAE Building Readiness

South Carolina’s School Guidance Includes ASHRAE Building Readiness Document 
The state of South Carolina has established an AcceleratED Task Force to provide guidance and recommendations regarding COVID-19 to school officials and school employees for the 2020-2021 school year. The draft guidance, issued in late June, includes the entire 110-page Building Readiness document developed by ASHRAE’s Epidemic Task Force in May. Various sections of the state’s guidance are focused on Summer Planning and Preparation, Pre-Opening, and Reopening and Continuity of Operations, and each of these aspects is addressed in ASHRAE’s Building Readiness recommendations. The full AcceleratEDTask Force draft guidance can be found here.

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