There’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting, explained Steven Camarillo, project manager of Mint Restoration, during a virtual Lunch and Learn presented by the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce on April 16.

The discussion featured local experts who discussed “Disinfecting and Staying Safe” either at home or the workplace during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel included representatives from Lapels Dry Cleaning, Quick Refrigeration, Pilkington Construction and Prison Hill Brewery. 

Mint Restoration, which handles cleanups at the scenes of accidents, crimes, etc., has always offered cleaning services, but Camarillo noted that during this time, more than ever people are focused on cleaning.

He explained the two cleaning methods. There’s the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces, the kind of cleaning usually done at home using products from the store. However, Camarillo noted, this type of surface cleaning “does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers the numbers and the risk of infection.”

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals that are EPA-registered that kill germs. “It can further lower the risk of infection,” Camarrillo said.

These products can also be found at the store. The label will say that it kills 99% of viruses.

Another option that Mint Restoration uses is fogging, which kills viruses that are airborne or hidden in crevices or hard-to-clean places, such as ducts. The company uses the same chemical to clean carpets and tile floors to kill bacteria. Fogging also works for vehicles.

ADDITIONAL STEPS FOR DISINFECTING

“It’s one of the craziest times to be a business owner,” Jimmy Gilmore of Quick Refrigeration said. His grandfather and a partner started the business in 1955. The technology might have evolved over the years, but they’re still in the business of air purification.

The company has researched products and services to properly disinfect and purify the air during these times. They came up with ways to keep home and business healthy, one of which is to give the air conditioning unit a tuneup to remove dirt, dust, debris, pollen and potentially viruses and other contaminants.

Gilmore explained that all of the air passes through the indoor coil, where contaminants can remain or spread through the system. The company uses a disinfectant specifically approved for the indoor coil, but he cautioned against using bleach or other disinfectants such as Lysol as they can rust and cause leaks in the system.

Quick Refrigeration also offers filters installed inside the AC system that continuously trap airborne particles in the home or office. 

In addition, the company offers duct cleaning, which is usually recommended every five years or after a construction or remodel project, when moving into a new space or after installing a new AC system. However, after a virus exposure, the company recommends sanitizing the ducts with a disinfectant and then installing air purification devices to continue filtering the air.

HAVING A PLAN IS ESSENTIAL

For Clint Harrington, president of Pilkington Construction, the company’s prevention and preparedness plan boils down to four “easy” steps: educate yourself first, educate employees and coworkers; provide them with the right personal protective equipment; and follow up, implement and repeat.

“A large percentage of the risk at any construction site, home, fill in the blank, can be eliminated by properly being informed. Train your workforce, your employees, your children. Be knowledgeable of the exposure hazard,” Harrington said.

“Our primary concern is to ensure we have a healthy and safe work environment, not only our employees, but our subcontractors, the plumbers, the air conditioning guys, the concrete people, service providers and visitors,” he added.

He noted that a plan should be customized to the business and updated as new information is available. Pilkington uses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guide for business employers.

The objective is to provide employees, visitors and anyone who comes in contact with the business with guidelines and responsibilities. “We feel that everybody has skin in the game for responsibility. The safety of our employees is everybody’s responsibility,” he noted. “If there’s a break in the chain, the whole thing falls apart.”

He noted that “whoever’s on top,” such as supervisors and managers, needs to make sure that everyone follows the plan. “You can’t tell them to wear masks and not provide masks. You can’t tell them to wipe down surfaces, and not do that.”

Pilkington follows the CDC guidelines of providing a place to wash hands and ensuring masks and gloves are disposed of properly. The company’s plan also includes information from OSHA on handling blood-borne pathogens at job sites.

The plan contains the “things everyone knows,” such as avoiding contact with someone who is sick, not reporting to work if a worker has symptoms, frequently washing hands for 20 seconds, not touching the face, etc.

Harrington suggested locking the door and putting a “by appointment only” sign on the door. A lot of appointments can be handled with teleconferencing. Visitors to the workplace should be screened and asked questions. Pilkington screens everyone who comes onto a worksite, in particular at a hospital project outside of Yuma, asking them if they have been in contact with someone who has COVID-19 or been medically directed to self-quarantine. They are asked if they have traveled outside the U.S., although he noted that being so close to the border, many locals regularly travel to Mexico, so these should be handled case by case.

If an employee is sick, they are sent home for 24 hours, and then their symptoms are checked. If they have sick family members at home, they need to notify the company.

The company has instituted other measures such as washing  when entering and leaving a jobsite and post-shift decontamination, including taking clothes off and washing their hands when they get home.

BUSINESS WILL BE FOREVER CHANGED

The pandemic has caused businesses to “shift in the way we think, in the way we conduct business, in the way we shop,” said Chris Wheeler, owner of Prison Hill Brewing Co., who also has degrees in chemistry and molecular and cellular biology. “This stuff about COVID scares me, so we take it seriously, so much in fact that we’ve been taking precautions above and beyond what I think are conventional measures.”

Kitchen staff wear gloves regardless of an outbreak, and masks are an added precaution. The measures have been extended to the serving staff. In addition, they constantly sanitize the server books and menus and ask for payment over the phone as much as possible to avoid hand-to-hand contact. 

Customers can’t come into the restaurant. Although some restaurants are allowing it, “I’m not comfortable with it,” Wheeler said.

“They’re very, very simple measures to take that really do ensure that if there is transmission forward or backward that we can nip it in the butt, and it doesn’t spread beyond that individual person,” he explained.

He’s been asked about third-party delivery systems. He noted that Prison Hill can control everything going out, but they can’t control the third-parties that deliver the food. The restaurant does emphasize that they wear gloves and drop off the food at the door if possible, and ask customers to pay and tip over the phone to limit interactions.

“At some point this will pass, and we’ll reopen,” Wheeler said. However, he noted that the pandemic will have changed some businesses forever. For example, restaurants might seat 100 people, instead of 150.

Prison Hill has already taken proactive steps, such as installing foot pushes and pulls on doors and automatic toilets, faucets and soap and paper towel dispensers. “You can walk in and out and never touch anything with your hands,” he said.

The brewery has also been making sanitizer for first responders and the public in a tanker parked behind Prison Hill, where 6,800 gallons of ethanol are being turned into 7,000 gallons of hand sanitizer. “I think I have the community covered,” Wheeler quipped.

He added, “We’re going to get through this. Be smart.”

Editor’s note: Melody Dunn, owner of Lapels, also shared tips, but she focused more on garments and linens at home. Watch the entire discussion on the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce Facebook page.

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