THE CORONAVIRUS: WHAT EVERY FACILITY MANAGER MUST KNOW
You’re hearing about it on the news, and it’s all over social media. Consumers are buying cases of water, nonperishables and disinfectants after waiting in long lines at the grocery store. Meanwhile, hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes with bleach have been sold out for several weeks. It’s all due to the rapid-fire spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. There’s a lot of coverage and concern thanks to the way this new virus spreads, and while we are unsure how the spread will change and develop, there’s a lot of inaccurate information being shared.
As a facility manager, how can you and your commercial cleaning staff accurately prepare your building to keep this infection from spreading?
Here are some thoughts and protocols you should share with your janitorial staff on how to get ready for the virus to hit, what to do when it does and why it matters.
Why We Need to Take the Coronavirus Spread Seriously
Sure, for many who contract it, the coronavirus doesn’t feel like much more than the flu. A few body aches, a dry cough and maybe a fever. So why are we as a country taking such elaborate precautions? There are some people, including the elderly and those with comorbidities, for whom the coronavirus quickly can evolve into something deadly. And because we are dealing with a new strain of the virus, no one has built up an immunity to the virus, which is why people are contracting it so quickly—because we don’t have the right immunities. Because of this, it’s possible hospitals can become overcrowded with too many people who have become infected—and fast. This is why so many health officials are encouraging “social distancing” and asking Americans to help “flatten the curve” to help control transmission. Because it could really help.
The COVID-19 coronavirus isn’t like the chickenpox, where moms used to expose their kids to someone with the virus so they get sick and build an early immunity. It’s far more important to prevent infection as long as possible to allow hospitals the time they need to prepare and do our best to keep these healthcare facilities from overcrowding. You can do your part for infection control by working to keep the virus from spreading in your building. How? By passing along a few simple but crucial care routines to your janitorial staff.
Does COVID-19 Spread When People Touch Contaminated Surfaces?
If you’re a facility manager thinking about protecting the occupants of your building, you’re probably wondering the same thing other facility managers are: Can the coronavirus spread by touching surfaces that have become contaminated by the virus?
The answer to this question is that it’s definitely possible, but this is not the main way that the disease is thought to spread. While health officials still are making constant discoveries about this virus, it’s also possible for a person to contract COVID-19 by touching a surface that has been contaminated and then touching their mouth, nose and eyes.
The information available now tells us that the coronavirus can live on a surface anywhere from a few hours to a few days if it hasn’t been carefully sanitized. The World Health Organization asks that if you think a surface has been contaminated that you disinfect it to protect yourself and your building’s occupants.
What Can You Do to Help With Infection Control?
How are you and your janitorial staff able to prevent the spread of the coronavirus? Because there is proof the virus can spread via a contaminated surface, you should advise your commercial cleaning company to spend a great deal of time cleaning high-touch surfaces throughout the entirety of the building.
What surfaces are considered high-touch surfaces?
Tables, desks and countertops
Doorknobs, handles and push plates or push bars on doors
Toilets, faucets and sinks
If you are the building manager, it’s vital to have a well-thought-out plan for your janitorial service to disinfect these high-touch surfaces to reduce the risk of transmission within your building. Public buildings like schools, dorms, shops, grocery stores and restaurants are all very densely populated. While the CDC recommends avoiding public areas, there is still a lot of traffic as people prepare for isolation, and disinfecting these high-touch surfaces is more important than ever. Are student desks getting sanitized? What about kitchen areas or tables in a restaurant or the credit card keypad at the grocery store? Make sure all surfaces are getting cleaned.
What else should you ask of your building’s cleaning staff to care for these high-touch surfaces?
Use EPA-registered disinfectants and sanitizers to thoroughly clean all surfaces, and follow the instructions on the label at all times.
Remind your cleaning team about how important it is to disinfect your building.
Put up signs in the restroom and eating areas to remind your janitorial staff (and your building occupants) about how important it is to wash their hands properly, and use hand sanitizer whenever possible.
What to Do If Someone in Your Building Contracts COVID-19
If someone in your building becomes sick with the coronavirus, what information do you need to provide to your janitorial staff on how they can sanitize your building? The best course of action is to follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which shared the following recommendations for how to disinfect your workplace after a sick person has been there.
As the facilities manager, you should pass along the following recommendations to ensure proper sanitization:
Close off any areas that were used by the sick person, and hold off for as long as feasible before your team starts to clean and disinfect the area, to minimize potential exposure to respiratory droplets lingering in the air.
Open exterior doors and windows to aid in air circulation, and then wait at least 24 hours before you begin to clean and sanitize the area.
Your janitorial team should disinfect every area used by the infected people, with a heavy focus on high-touch surfaces.
Clean surfaces with a solution of 70 percent alcohol in water, an EPA-registered disinfectant or a solution of bleach diluted in water.
Bleach is a strong chemical and can kill the virus, but it should only be used on appropriate surfaces where there is good ventilation. And never mix bleach with any products that contain ammonia.
Soft surfaces like cloth or carpet should be cleaned with products designed for these surfaces, and items that can be should be put in the washing machine on the warmest possible setting.
Your janitorial staff should wear gloves and gowns during every part of the cleaning process—even when taking out the trash. And remove your gloves carefully and follow up with hand-washing.
The COVID-19 coronavirus should be taken seriously, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Let our team at Choice Services help. We can handle all kinds of janitorial services, across many industries.
Retail and grocery buildings
Restaurants and the hospitality industry
Being a facility manager is already challenging when there isn’t a virus spreading like a wildfire. If you need additional support in dealing with this virus, let Choice Services take over.
We are ready with our gloves and sanitizers. www.choice.services