Spraying takes place Monday in Somerton against COVID-19

As part of “Operation Safe City” Disinfection, the city will sanitize streets, pathways, and parks in an effort to help protect its residents.

It can’t be called a magic pill against COVID-19, but disinfectant will be sprayed in high-traffic areas of Somerton Monday morning to kill the coronavirus.

NISUS DSV, a disinfectant determined by the Environmental Protection Agency to be effective against the virus, will be sprayed along Main Street, in the city’s parks and along its system of multiuse paths, or andadores, between 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., Somerton city officials said.

Absent rain, the disinfectant is expected to be effective in killing the virus in those areas for two or three weeks, said City Administrator Ian McGaughey and Manny Valenzuela, Sun City Pest Control owner in Yuma.

The disinfectant will be diluted at a rate of 2 ounces per gallon of purified water, a consistency that Valenzuela says poses no threat to humans or animals. Residents, however, are being asked to avoid targeted areas while the spraying is taking place.

Sun City Pest Control is one of several area businesses donating materials for a pilot effort that potentially could be done elsewhere in Yuma County as part of measures to contain a virus that, as of Thursday, had infected 45 people in the county, resulting in one death,

Sun City is providing the disinfectant, said Valenzuela, while Southwest Sanitation has lined up a tractor and 550-gallon sprayer and Yuma attorney Candy Camarena, a Somerton native, provided money toward the cost of water provided by Real Purified Water.

“We all came together just to help, just to be proactive,” Valenzuela said

McGaughey said those businesses approached the city with the idea of doing the spraying and the city took them up on the offer.

“We looked into it, researched (the disinfectant) and did our due diligence,” McGaughey said, “and everything checked out.”

McGaughey said spraying will not take place in residential areas, but rather directed at city-owned property that is heavily frequented by the public, such as the paths used by walkers and bicyclists, sidewalks along Main Street and the parks.

Park amenities such as picnic tables and playground equipment are currently off-limits to the public, although residents are free to gather on or walk through the park grounds, McGaughey said.

“Even though many facilities are closed, we want to make sure areas still open to the public are properly sanitized,” Somerton Vice Mayor Martha Garcia said.

McGaughey figures the city’s investment in the spraying is only about $300. “That’s because of the generosity of the local businesses.”

Whether the city renews the disinfectant once the initial application wears off will depend on various factors, he said, among them the transmission rate of the virus in the weeks ahead.

“We’ll do this and see how it goes, and take it from there,” McGaughey said.

Valenzuela said the businesses have informally presented the idea of spraying against the coronavirus to other local governments in the area.

Of the 45 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Yuma County, between one and five are thought to be among people living in or around Somerton, McGaughey said.

He and other city officials sought to stress that the spraying is no substitute for the social distancing recommendations the public has been urged to follow to avoid contracting and spreading COVID-19.

“This is not a replacement for social distancing, frequent hand-washing or other guidelines for keeping you and your family safe,” Somerton Mayor Gerardo Anaya said. “This is something extra we want to do in the interest of doing everything we can to protect our residents.”

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