Getting a clean bill of health for post COVID-19 occupancy
COVID-19 cleaning has become a vital service in the cleaning and restoration industry, surpassing but not eliminating the regular day-to-day or week-to-week cleaning for a home or business, or the restoration work after flooding or a fire. Because we're confronting a viral pandemic with no immediate immunizations available, the Center for Disease Control's (DCD) first step for battling the coronavirus is physical distancing and frequent, routine cleaning and disinfecting.
The demand for specialty disinfecting services has skyrocketed as businesses and employers move forward with reopening following Gov. Pritzker's state of Illinois Phase 3 of Recovery Plan. As defined by the CDC, there are now strict measures in place that businesses and employers must follow upon re-entry to ensure a clean, disinfected, and healthy work environment.
ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons has been at the forefront of COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection service in the Chicagoland area. The firm is fully and trained compliant with CDC regulations and guidelines established by ServiceMaster. Further, we take customer privacy seriously on-site while donning and doffing personal protection equipment.
COVID-19 can survive on surfaces up to 17 days, and persons infected by COVID-19 may not show symptoms for many days after infection. This makes the virus difficult to track and contain. According to the CDC guidelines for cleaning & disinfection services, it is critical to use EPA registered and approved products that meet the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The specific cleaning & disinfection steps following a COVID-19 positive case or for a preventive cleaning & disinfection in business follows essentially the same process. Accordingly, technicians:
• Don and doff personal protective equipment
• Clean surfaces before disinfecting with an EPA approved disinfectant
• Fog surfaces and the air with an electrostatic fogging machine using an EPA approved disinfectant
• Use microfiber cloths to clean high touch areas with an EPA approved disinfectant
• Leave the disinfectant on surfaces for the required dwell time so the product is effective
• Clean up any discarded materials and single-use PPE, sealing our soiled materials for proper disposal
It is important to highlight that in addition to our re-entry cleaning & disinfection process, as businesses and employers reopen, another piece of prevention is the essential daily routine cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces. Going forward, daily routine cleaning must come from the businesses themselves in order to keep work environments safe and cleaning costs down. For day-to-day "maintenance" cleaning, hiring a professional company like ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons may not always be cost-effective in the long run for small businesses.
Along with the standard recommendations for routine cleaning such as wiping of high touch surfaces is the monitoring and improvement of indoor air quality (IAQ), specifically the air exchange of a confined workspace in an office or businesses. The standard is to open the doors and windows to allow for "fresh air exchange." In many high-rise or multilevel buildings, offices do not have windows that open. Where windows do not open, it may be necessary to inquire with the building facility manager about the availability of exhausting as a form of fresh air exchange. In the case that these two options are not available, businesses and property owners may need to consider duct cleaning for forced-air heating and cooling systems. Ducts that are not regularly cleaned likely are caked with dirt and dust and can exacerbate the indoor air quality problem.
Overall, the best way to prevent the spread of coronavirus in an office or other place of business is to ensure surfaces are wiped down with disinfectant every day and fogged every several weeks.
There are also specific steps employers can recommend for employees to follow as businesses reopen, including providing every workstation with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes/spray, urging employees to practice frequent hand washing, and encouraging employees to stay home if they feel ill.
Additionally, staggering office scheduling to reduce the number of employees in the workplace and continuing social distancing will help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• Sam Simon and Nasutsa Mabwa are the owners of ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons, an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company. Contact them at (773) 376-1110 or servicemasterbysimons.com.