How to Ride an Elevator During a Pandemic

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At some point, our offices are going to open up again. We'll have to find a way to move through the world without enhancing our risk of transmitting or catching COVID-19. Many cities and states are already working out plans to phase in gatherings and workplaces, but it's a multi-step process, with every kind of small detail to consider.

One way we're going to have to adapt is vertically: Our efficient urban footprints are largely because we've built tall buildings, and tall buildings require elevators to stay functional for the majority of users and residents. This week, Kaiser Health News looked into how we can get between floors at work and in apartment buildings without compromising our safety, and some of the answers are stranger than others.

Social distancing is out, for instance, for all but freight elevators, but weird as it feels, you can still share an elevator with more than one person, especially if everyone is wearing as a mask, as recommended. All it requires, according to one industry expert, is riders facing the four walls of the car, rather than waiting aligned and shoulder to shoulder. You might get some odd looks, but you'll likely not be talking either — another move that can help reduce the spread of respiratory droplets which can carry the coronavirus.

Mostly, of course, it's key to keep elevators and frequently used surfaces clean. Some buildings have implemented lines and limits on how many riders a car carries at a time. No matter how it happens, common sense can probably take us far.