WATERVLIET, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Albany County officials announced Wednesday that 5,000 portable air filtration units have been purchased for K-12 classrooms across the county. The air purifiers, which are manufactured in New York State by Austin Air Systems, were unveiled at Watervliet High School by County Executive Daniel P. McCoy, alongside Watervliet Mayor Charles Patricelli, Watervliet Schools Superintendent Dr. Donald Stevens and the President of Austin Air Systems, Lauren McMillan.

The portable units are the latest measure deployed by the county to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and throughout the community. “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 McCoy.

Austin Air Systems began delivering the units in late August, in time for the start of the school year. Nearly 4,100 air purifiers will be delivered to public schools, with the rest going to private and charter schools. The total cost of each Austin Air HealthMate unit was about $540. Albany County funded this initiative with a federal grant directed toward COVID-19 mitigation efforts in K-12 schools.

The county is also using the federal 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.

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.”