What is COVID, how does it spread, and what should I do to protect my staff and patrons?
Coronavirus is the name for a family of viruses. COVID-19 is an illness caused by the new or “novel” coronavirus, meaning that humans have no existing immunity to its effects at this time. The virus spreads from person to person and has now spread throughout the world. Its symptoms can range from mild (or no symptoms) to severe illness, even death.
COVID-19 is spread through close contact (6 feet or less) with an infected individual. COVID-19 is primarily spread from person to person, and new infections occur when respiratory droplets are transferred from an infected person who breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes near an uninfected person. Additionally, it may also be transmittable when an uninfected person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
To protect your staff and patrons from COVID-19, the CDC provides these recommendations.
- Ensure that you and your employees wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.
- If soap is not readily available, use sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol or more and rub your hands together until they feel dry.
- Do not touch your eyes, mouth, or nose with unwashed hands.
- Enforce social distancing when possible if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This may mean closing non-essential businesses or transforming your location to offer pick-up/drive-thru services only. Reduce your staff to essential personnel only.
- Stay home or keep employees home for 2 weeks if they are exhibiting flu like symptoms.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces multiple times a day with sanitizers or disinfectants.
Clean, sanitize, or disinfect?
Coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days. Warmer temperatures and exposure to sunlight will reduce the time the virus survives on surfaces and objects. Disinfection significantly reduces the risk of transmitting COVID through surfaces, and should be favored over traditional cleaning methods. So what’s the difference between disinfection and other methods?
- Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt from surfaces. It can include sweeping, wiping off surfaces, rinsing off dirt, and using detergent. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water removes germs and dirt from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection to an extent.
- Sanitizing consists of treating a cleaned surface with an antimicrobial product in order to reduce or eliminate microorganisms.
- Disinfecting means killing all pathogens – bacteria, fungi and viruses – contaminating that particular area. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, you can significantly lower the risk of spreading infection.
CDC Guidance on disinfecting your business to reopen and stay open:
- Normal routine cleaning with soap and water will decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which reduces the risk of exposure.
- Disinfection using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 can also help reduce the risk. Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is important.
- Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together–this can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.
Routine housekeeping practices are often sub-optimal, and some studies have shown that disinfection offers 82% improvement, resulting in a 68% decrease in bacteriological environmental contamination.
Source: ATP testing: a proven method to Measure Cleanliness, hygiena, 2015
The Science of HOCL: Non-Toxic, Proven to kill COVID-19
Envirocleanse-A, our preferred cleaning agent, is EPA-approved to kill COVID-19 (EPA reg #85134-1). It is also non-toxic, certified organic, non-corrosive, non-flammable and sustainable out of the bottle.
Envirocleanse-A contains the active ingredient of hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and water. The hypochlorous acid acts as a disinfectant and is the same substance your white blood cells produce to attach pathogens and fight off infections.
Hypochlorous acid (HOCL) is the most effective disinfectant in the chlorine family available in a dilute solution. It is suggested that HOCL is 80 to 120 times more efficacious than sodium hypochlorite (bleach). Because HOCL has no charge and has a relatively low molecular weight it is better able than the other chlorine-based disinfectants to penetrate the cell walls. It also reacts more rapidly than other chlorine-based disinfectants to oxidation reactions with organic matter, i.e. the critical components of microbial cells.
Electrostatic disinfection: FDA approved to kill COVID-19
The SANISTAFF application process utilizes electrostatic disinfection, with next generation equipment including electrostatic sprayers and Ultra Low Volume (ULV foggers). This method, which is FDA-approved to disinfect against COVID-19, vaporizes disinfectants to more thoroughly cover all surface areas.
Electrostatic sprayers efficiently and evenly coat surfaces with disinfecting solution. The electrostatic applicator applies a negative charge to the disinfecting solution as it leaves the application tool. Since charged molecules repel each other, they create a more evenly distributed disinfectant application, which is attracted to the applied surface, thereby creating 360-degrees of coverage. These charged particles create a web of disinfectant over the applied surfaces with a micron size between 40 to 110 microns. This service is particularly important because germs and bacteria hide in hard-to-reach areas, which are reached during an electrostatic disinfecting service. Key benefits:
- Covers 360-degrees of applied surfaces
- Reduces the risk of cross contamination since application is touchless
- Evenly distributed application allows for required disinfectant dwell times
- Reaches hard-to-reach cleaning surfaces and spaces
- Uses on average 65% less chemicals per square foot than standard cleaning
ULV fogging machines work by compressing disinfectant through a specially designed novel, which generates a fog or mist formed of Ultra Low Volume (ULV) droplets of disinfectant between 5-50 microns (μm) in diameter. Studies have shown that droplets of this size are ideal to tackle pathogens, vector carriers, and pests. Key benefits::
- Covers more surface area with disinfecting per square inch, based on larger micron size
- Treats a cubic volume of air in a space
- Reaches hard-to-reach surface areas and spaces
- Reduces the risk of cross-contamination because of touch application processes
- Efficiently sanitizes larger service areas, compared to other vapor cleaning methods
ATP testing and validation
How do you know that disinfection services worked? As part of a data-driven validation system, SANISTAFF conducts before- and after-disinfection Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) testing. ATP testing measures residual organic matter that may remain after a surface, device or piece of equipment is cleaned. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an enzyme that is present in all organic matter—living and once-living—including blood, saliva, viruses, and bacteria.
Using the ATP cleaning verification system, a SANISTAFF technician will swab surfaces both before disinfection to identify areas of greatest need, and after the service to confirm and validate disinfection results.
ATP readings can provide real-time feedback on cleaning performance, vs the 24 to 48 hours required to obtain results via microbiological methods.
- CDC Guidance on Reopening: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/pdf/Reopening_America_Guidance.pdf
- EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
- OSHA guidance on preparing workforces to reopen: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3990.pdf
- ISSA proper use of disinfectants