COVID-19 Coronavirus – What Property Managers Need to Know

Introduction

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China. 

How does COVID-19 spread? The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. 

Cleaning and Disinfecting

This article discusses both “cleaning” and “disinfecting”.  According to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the definition of each is as follows:

  • Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Learn what is known about the spread of the newly emerged coronaviruses at https://www.coronavirus.gov

What to clean

Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

In your common areas it is important to clean and disinfect areas and items that many people come into contact with.  There are a number of areas touched by multiple people that you may not think about. Some of these areas include:

  • Doorknobs
  • Remote Controls
  • Restroom apparatuses 
  • Elevator buttons
  • Call boxes
  • Tabletops
  • Refrigerator handles
  • Shared kitchen appliances & surfaces
  • Coffee machines / Water dispensers
  • Office phones
  • Light switches
  • Stairwell handrails
  • Mailboxes
  • Vending Machines
  • Chair arms
  • Floors & Carpets

Technique

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.

 

  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

 

  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

 

    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

 

      • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
        • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
        • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
      • Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g. concentration, application method and contact time, etc.)

 

  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:  launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely, or
    Use products with the EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims (examples at this link) that are suitable for porous surfaces.

Products

Antimicrobial products which have been registered by the EPA are deemed effective against common pathogens.  EPA-registered antimicrobial products may not make efficacy claims against these pathogens unless the Agency has reviewed data to support the claim and approved the claim on the label.

A complete list of EPA registered antimicrobial products which can be used to disinfect surfaces against Coronavirus may be found here: 

List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2

Frequency

Community members can practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, for example: 

  • Tables
  • Doorknobs
  • light switches
  • Handles
  • Desks
  • Toilets
  • Faucets
  • Sinks 

 

with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

For surfaces that are routinely cleaned, disinfection is recommended every four hours. 

Continuity Plan

As companies are building their business continuity plans, so should property management.  Specific questions to ask include:

Coverage plan

If you find yourself with multiple employees either sick, quarantined or caring for a loved one who is ill, coverage will be a key consideration.  Will you offer overtime to your current staff or can you bring in exterior resources to cover open shifts?

Transportation

Along with coverage consideration, you should also plan for a shutdown of mass transit, many property staff rely on busses or subways, how will you cover if your team can’t get to work?

Products

As concerns about the virus outbreak increase, many products such as paper towels, hand sanitizer, etc.. are out of stock and future availability is unknown.   EPA approved cleaning products are also in limited supply. Do you have a backup plan to provide your team with adequate cleaning solutions?   

For disinfection, the EPA recommends diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

 

    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

Conclusion

Your best Coronavirus strategy is to have a workable plan in place covering at least these four items: 

Keep your common areas clean

Disinfect high touch areas every four hours if possible

Have a clear Standard Operating Procedure for the areas to be cleaned, the required techniques, frequency and products used. 

Prepare a business continuity plan to address coverage.

For a collaborative conversation about your plan or your janitorial needs, please contact Planned Companies at 866-244-2204

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