Albany County Executive presents air purifier units to Watervliet City Schools

Superintendent Donald Stevens standing with Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, Watervliet Mayor Charles Patricelli and President of Austin Air Systems Lauren McMillan. The four are gathered around an air purifier unit in a Watervliet High School classroom.Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today unveiled portable air filtration units for use in K-12 classrooms in the Watervliet City Schools and other districts across the county. The air purifiers, which are manufactured in New York State by Austin Air Systems, were presented to School Superintendent Dr. Donald Stevens during a press conference at Watervliet Jr.-Sr. High School.  Watervliet Mayor Charles Patricelli and the President of Austin Air Systems, Lauren McMillan, were also in attendance. Watch today’s press conference

The County Executive announced the purchase of 5,000 portable units as part of the latest measure deployed by Albany County to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and throughout the community. Watervliet schools received approximately 200 of the portable units for its classrooms.

Superintendent Donald Stevens speaks into microphone at front of the classroom. County Executive Dan McCoy and President of Austin Air Systems Lauren McMillan stand in the background..“We thank the Albany County executive for including our schools in this initiative to equip classrooms with Austin Air Filtration units. These air purifiers will increase ventilation and filtration, which will support our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other airborne illnesses, creating a healthier environment for our students and staff,” said Watervliet Superintendent Dr. Donald Stevens, Jr., who’s partnership has helped the distribution of such air filters in Watervliet schools.

Units from Austin Air Systems part of Albany County’s ongoing strategy to reduce COVID transmission among students, teachers and staff

The County Executive’s Office worked closely with the Albany County Department of Health and local districts to provide air purifiers for every school that requested the technology for an additional layer of COVID-19 protection. Austin Air Systems began delivering the units in late August, in time for the start of the school year.

“While many of us may be done with COVID, unfortunately, COVID is not done with us, and these 5,000 air purifier units that Albany County has acquired is a huge victory for the health and wellness of some of our youngest residents going to school each day. Not only will they be better protected from COVID and other airborne diseases, but studies have shown that students perform better academically when they have access to purified air,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “I’m happy to partner with the City of Watervliet, the school district and Austin Air on this initiative, and I’m looking forward to getting more air purifiers in local schools throughout the county to provide parents, faculty and staff with the added peace of mind they deserve.”

Portable Austin Air Filtration unit with informational product pamphlet placed on topNearly 4,100 air purifiers will be delivered to public schools, with the remainder going to private and charter schools. The total cost of each Austin Air HealthMate unit was approximately $540. Albany County funded this initiative with a federal grant directed toward COVID-19 mitigation efforts in K-12 schools.

The HealthMate units are equipped with HEPA filtration, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a key tool for mitigating COVID-19 transmission indoors. Medical-grade HEPA technology is certified to remove 99.97% of all particles larger than 0.3 microns and up to 95% of all airborne contaminants as small as 0.1 microns, including viruses, bacteria, dust, dander and allergens. The HealthMate filter also includes a carbon blend to remove chemicals, gases and odors.

“Austin Air has partnered with the U.S. government, FEMA, the American Red Cross, and school districts across the country in response to challenging environmental situations. We’re proud to now provide HEPA-cleaned air to classrooms in Albany County,” said Austin Air Systems President Lauren McMillan. “Beyond its application for slowing the spread of COVID-19, HEPA filtration has been shown to improve children’s performance in math and English. I commend the county for recognizing the short- and long-term benefits of this technology, and thank everyone involved in this important project that will benefit the county’s students, teachers and families.”

Albany County is also using the federal ELC grant to hire personnel, create a mobile clinic unit with an expected delivery date by the end of 2022, and purchase test kits with lab support, masks for both adults and children, and cleaning supplies.