A team of architects at Perkins and Will’s New York City office developed a plan to retrofit school buses into mobile COVID-19 testing units and deploy them throughout neighborhoods with high rates of cases, reported the Commercial Observer.
These testing units would cut back on the number of people using public transit to go get tested.
The Perkins and Will architects recognize there are drive-up testing sites but that they are not options for those who don’t have a vehicle. Mariana Giraldo, an architect and strategic planning specialist for the company, noted that the virus disproportionately affects low-income communities, the homeless, and people who might not be comfortable going to formal facilities.
Giraldo added that a school bus is just one of the possible shells these mobile sites could utilize. However, there are reportedly plenty of unused school buses in the five boroughs and cities across New York state, since many schools have closed until the fall.
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The school bus could be transformed into a sterile clean room with a lab bench, where a few technicians would handle samples. The bus would need a testing machine and an air handling device on top to ensure the lab remains negative pressure. Two or three more people will work outside and collect samples.
The company anticipates it would cost $25,000 to $30,000 to retrofit a bus, not including the testing machine.
New York City reportedly announced a similar testing program using trucks that are being sent to Soundview in the Bronx and Kew Gardens in Queens.