To Disinfect a Police Car in a Pandemic, Software Cranks Up the Heat

To Disinfect a Police Car in a Pandemic, Software Cranks Up the Heat


Over the last two months, law-enforcement agencies around the country have increasingly found themselves transporting people infected with the coronavirus, and facing the challenge of how to quickly and effectively sanitize their vehicles.

“We’ve been doing it by hand, wiping down the seats and interior with 70 percent alcohol and water,” said Robert Martinez, deputy commissioner for support services at the New York Police Department. “But with the virus, you can’t see it, so you don’t know if you’re getting every surface and every nook and cranny.”

Now Ford Motor, a major supplier of police cruisers, has come up with an answer. The carmaker has developed a software update that can raise the interior temperature to 133 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, which it says is enough to eliminate the virus.

The New York Police Department, with about 9,000 vehicles, mostly from Ford, is one of several law-enforcement agencies adopting the feature.

Mr. Martinez said that it would take time to install software updates on all the Ford vehicles in the New York police fleet, but that the method seemed promising. “This is a pretty comprehensive, sure way of knowing that you killed the virus, or even bedbugs or other things,” he said.

The feature is available on the Ford Police Interceptor S.U.V.s for the 2013 to 2019 model years. Some 176,000 of those vehicles were sold, making it one of the top models used by law enforcement.

To be sure this approach would be effective, Ford turned to Ohio State University, where researchers examined the ability of high heat to destroy viruses in vehicles. The researchers performed tests using a coronavirus similar to the strain that has caused more than 100,000 deaths in the United States, said Jesse Kwiek, an associate professor of microbiology at Ohio State.

A solution containing the virus was spread on the carpet, plastics and other materials used for the interiors of Ford’s police vehicles, and those parts were heated to 120 degrees for 15 minutes, Mr. Kwiek said.

At that temperature, the study concluded, the protein that is a crucial component of the virus’s structure unravels. “Of all the materials we tested, we were never able to recover infectious viruses for any,” he said.

Bill Gubing, Ford’s product line manager for S.U.V.s and passenger vehicles, said the automaker heard of the problem of decontaminating police vehicles in March as the coronavirus began spreading rapidly across the country.

“Our engineers thought about how an autoclave is used to sterilize medical instruments,” Mr. Gubing said, referring to the heated containers used at high temperatures and pressures. The engineers envisioned “a way to do something like that with a vehicle,” he said, “because we have a perfect heat source right there,” the engine.

  • Updated June 5, 2020

    • How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?

      The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation’s job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.

    • Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus?

      Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.

    • How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?

      Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, “start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,” says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. “When you haven’t been exercising, you lose muscle mass.” Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.

    • My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?

      States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren’t being told to stay at home, it’s still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.

    • What’s the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?

      Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus — whether it’s surface transmission or close human contact — is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.

    • What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

      Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.

    • How can I protect myself while flying?

      If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)

    • Should I wear a mask?

      The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don’t need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.


The company developed an update for the vehicles’ engine-control software that creates a sanitation mode that can be activated by pressing a series of buttons on the steering wheel. The software checks whether there is enough gasoline to keep the engine running for the 80-minute process, and prompts officers to ensure that no one is in the vehicle and no sensitive electronics remain inside.

With the doors and windows closed, the software heats the interior to 133 degrees. After 15 minutes at that temperature, the vehicle’s air-conditioning comes on to cool off the interior.

Mr. Gubing said the process should not damage interior parts. Metal would be unaffected by 120-degree heat, he said, and plastics typically melt at 212 degrees or higher.



Source link

About The Author

We are independent. we bring you the Real news from around the world.

Related posts

Leave a Reply