Frequently Asked Questions
Top 5 Coronavirus Myths
The current coronavirus pandemic has the rumor mill churning on the best ways to stay safe and to prevent the spread of infection. During existential crises such as this, it’s important to know the facts and dispel misinformation in order to protect yourself and those around you. Sanitation Kings Services is the #1 virucidal disinfection company in South Texas and we’re here to address the 5 most concerning myths surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus.
MYTH: SURGICAL MASKS WILL PROTECT YOU FROM CORONAVIRUS
Surgical masks’ main utilization is to stop a doctor’s cough or sneeze from infecting a patient during medical procedures, not the other way around. They generally do nothing to protect the wearer from coronavirus. While it is recommended to wear some sort of mask if you feel symptoms, it is by no means a pass to leave the home or stop practicing other safety precautions. Self-quarantining is still essential if you show symptoms or have come into contact with someone that has tested positive.
That being said, N95 respirators are used by healthcare workers that deal with infected patients and do a better job of protecting the wearer. Sanitation Kings COVID-19 cleanup technicians wear NIOSH approved air purifying full face respirators—many times more protective than the N95. This type of heavy duty equipment is not readily available for the public.
MYTH: YOU’LL KNOW YOU HAVE IT
Actually, COVID-19 is especially insidious because most infected people do not know they have it. The virus has an incubation period of 2 weeks, which means from the time of infection to symptoms actually surfacing, 2 weeks will have already passed. During this incubation period, the infected person is still highly contagious, which is what makes this coronavirus so difficult for officials to track and contain. Some people can even be highly contagious and asymptomatic, meaning they will not show symptoms but are still capable of spreading it to others. This is why self-quarantine is so crucial and why so many industries have either shut down entirely or are implementing remote work policies.
Additionally, the CDC recently reported that the virus can be found on surfaces for up to 17 days after initial contact.
MYTH: HEAT KILLS THE VIRUS
You may have seen online advice (never from actual medical sources, mind you) that heat will kill coronavirus — from saunas, hair dryers, hot tubs, and baths, to drinking tea. But this is utterly untrue. While most viruses outside the body can be killed by temperatures exceeding 140F, there is yet no evidence that heat affects COVID-19. Furthermore, drinking tea, taking a bath or sitting in a sauna will not change your internal body temperature; and if you did have an internal temperature of 140F, you’d be long dead. Once the virus is inside your body, there is simply no way to kill it — your immune system has to fight it off.
So go ahead and take a hot bath to de-stress, but bear in mind it will have no medical benefits whatsoever in terms of protecting yourself against coronavirus.
MYTH: FLU VACCINES WILL PROTECT YOU
The coronavirus is NOT the same thing as the flu. It is not a “more aggressive form” of the flu and it does not behave in any way, shape or form, similar to the flu. The only thing COVID-19 and flu patients have in common are some symptoms. However, COVID-19 is far deadlier, more contagious, and there is no available vaccine or known cure…yet.
Not to be alarmist, but it is truly imperative that people understand the severity of this virus and the real consequences of ignoring safety precautions. As stated above, you can be infected and not even know it. Having a cavalier attitude of, “I’m young so it won’t affect me” can get people, including your older family members, killed.
MYTH: IT’S NOT DEADLIER THAN THE FLU
Coronavirus’ fatality rate thus far is 20x higher than the flu. Experts estimate that carriers of COVID-19 will infect 2-3 other people, making it twice as contagious as the seasonal flu. Add to it the rapidity of its spread, its ability to overwhelm healthcare systems, shortages on testing kits and medical equipment, and no available vaccine in the immediate future, and we have a virus far more sinister than your average seasonal flu.
Keeping yourself and those around you safe by practicing basic health safety such as social distancing and proper handwashing is crucial to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
For more information about COVID-19 or to schedule virucidal remediation for your home or business, give us a call at 956-688-9805 for your free quote today.
Businesses & Coronavirus Disinfection: Frequently Asked Questions
1. Question: What do we need to do if we have a confirmed case of COVID-19 in a person who either an employee or has visited my facility?
Answer: We believe that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the authority on responses to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Their recommendation is to first remove the infected person from your facility. We recommend that they follow their route of entry on their way out and that you provide them with a surgical-type mask to keep them from spreading the virus through coughing and sneezing. Next, isolate the areas that the person visited and remove your employees and others from those areas. Call Sanitation Kings and we will discuss the situation with you and help you develop a plan.
The General Duty Clause of The Occupational Safety & Health Act of 1970 requires employers to furnish to each worker “employment and a place of employment, which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm.” 29 USC 654(a)(1).
According to an OSHA Letter of Interpretation, employers can be cited for violation of the General Duty Clause if a recognized serious hazard exists in their workplace and the employer does not take reasonable steps to prevent or abate the hazard. The General Duty Clause is used only where there is no standard that applies to the particular hazard. The following elements are necessary to prove a violation of the General Duty Clause:
The employer failed to keep the workplace free of a hazard to which employees of that employer were exposed;
The hazard was recognized;
The hazard was causing or was likely to cause death or serious physical harm; and
There was a feasible and useful method to correct the hazard.
OSHA outlines standards that relate to handling COVID-19 in the workplace.
If a COVID-19 infected employee comes to work and infects others, this may be a violation of the General Duty Clause that could lead to a violation if the hazard was recognized and not corrected. Correction would come by quarantine of the infected employee (not allowing him/her to return to work) and a disinfection of the work area.
Additionally, only the flu and common cold infections in the workplace are exempted from OSHA’s Recordkeeping and Reporting requirements. If an employee is infected by COVID-19 in the workplace, the illness must be recorded on the OSHA 300 Log and if it results in a hospitalization or fatality, it must be reported to OSHA. In the case of a fatality, OSHA will conduct an investigation and a citation and fine could result if the General Duty Clause was found to be violated.
2. Question: How long can the virus survive on a surface? Can’t I just wait for it to die and avoid cleaning and disinfecting?
Answer: The CDC reports that the virus has been detected in the air for as much as 3 hours after it is aerosolized and up to 17 days on some inanimate surfaces. Not all surfaces have been tested and it is not yet know how much of the virus material is required to contract COVID-19. CDC currently does not have enough information about SARS-CoV-2 to be able to make a definitive statement on how long to quarantine an area for it to be reduced to an acceptable risk level. For these reasons, the cleaning and disinfection processes described by CDC continue to be the recommendation of Sanitation Kings.
3. Question: Can our own employees do the disinfection of the facility?
Answer: There is no restriction against an employer cleaning and disinfection their own facility; however, there are certain regulatory requirements that must be met in order to be in compliance with OSHA and EPA regulations:
OSHA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) standards (29 CFR 1910 Subpart I), require training when using gloves, eye and face protection, and respiratory protection.
When respirators are necessary to protect workers, employers must implement a comprehensive respiratory protection program in accordance with the OSHA’s Respiratory Protection standard (29 CFR 1910.134). This includes a written program, respirator fit tests and medical clearance to wear air purifying respirators. NOTE: Facemasks that are worn to protect others from the spread of pathogens and not to protect the wearer do not have the fit test and medical clearance requirements.
OSHA has issued a statement regarding COVID-19 Waste: “…use typical engineering and administrative controls, safe work practices, and PPE, such as puncture-resistant gloves and face and eye protection, to prevent worker exposure to the waste streams (or types of wastes), including any contaminants in the materials, they manage. Such measures can help protect workers from sharps and other items that can cause injuries or exposures to infectious materials.” Failure to properly manage the waste could lead to cross-contamination and further infection risks.
CDC says that most household disinfectants are effective at reducing the risk of infection, but it is important to use only disinfectants that are registered with the EPA. Specifically, those that have emerging virus claims offer the best protection against SARS-CoV-2 pathogens.
OSHA has recently issued a pamphlet entitled, Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19. This document is valuable source of information for employers who want to address the COVID-19 situation. It will help identify at risk employees and provide risk mitigation strategies to employ.