COVID-19 Update: July 1st, 2020

COVID 19 FAQ’s associated with how the virus spreads and defining routine and frequent disinfection
Prevention: how COVID-19 spreads

While the CDC is still learning about how the virus spreads and severity of illness, as of the last
update to the CDC website (6/16/20) COVID-19 is thought to spread through close contact
from person-to-person in the following ways:

  •  Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or
  • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly
    be inhaled into the lungs.
  • COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.


CDC also states that the virus may spread in other ways including the possibility 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. While this is not thought to be the main way the
virus spreads, the CDC is still learning. 1



How to protect yourself and others:
CDC states the best way to avoid exposure to the virus is following these steps to slow the


  •  Maintain good social distance (about 6 feet). This is very important in preventing the
    spread of COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a
    hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face covering when around others. 1



CDC Guidance for cleaning and disinfecting the workplace:
CDC general framework is based on:


  • 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. 2



Additional important reminders per CDC for reducing exposure risk in environmental cleaning:

  • 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.
  • Normal routine cleaning with soap and water removes germs and dirt from surfaces. It
    lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection.
  • Disinfectants kill germs on surfaces. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, you
    can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
  • Surfaces and objects that are not frequently touched (or touched by multiple
    individuals) should be cleaned and do not require added disinfection. 2

Frequently asked questions:

What does routine and frequently cleaning and disinfecting with focus on high touch objects or those touched by multiple individuals mean? Or how frequent is routine and frequent?

A main reason the CDC does not give a prescriptive frequency for cleaning and disinfecting the general workplace because of the natural differences in facility dynamics and usage that play into those decisions. Cleaning and disinfection break the chain of infection similar to (but at a lesser degree) than hand washing. CDC does not tell the general public how many times to wash our hands but recommends as routinely as possible and after specific tasks.

In healthcare facilities, the CDC requires that disinfection of patient care areas happens at least once daily and that a clean environment is established in between every patient (items touched by the previous patient must be changed or cleaned and disinfected). Similarly, hand hygiene must be performed after contact with every patient.4

So how do we take the highly regulated healthcare environment with known infection and  transition those more direct rulings into the common public spaces? In a pandemic, the public spaces become more like our regulated healthcare space. The answer is tied to many variables including: traffic, touching of surfaces, ventilation and natural lighting, facility sick policies, distancing capabilities, and the amount of risk a facility is willing to undertake.


In short, daily cleaning and disinfection of surfaces touched by multiple individuals should be the minimum and public spaces that are frequently touched should be cleaned and disinfected as frequently as possible, especially post large gatherings, break times, in restrooms, lunches, etc. Work with your clients to understand how traffic and other variables will changes as they return to office or workplace and use that information to develop the recommendation for frequency.



Is the solution to have day porter(s) do most of the disinfection or should we recommend
cleaning and disinfection only at night?

Per the answers above, day porters are essential in between gatherings, for restrooms, breakrooms, conference rooms, etc. If our day porters have full access to the facility for cleaning and disinfection and day porters are working the hours that employees are present, then day porters alone may be enough. In most cases, there are rooms that our day porters may not have access to due to usage. The benefit to cleaning and disinfecting a facility at night is that we have full uninhibited access to clean and disinfect the entire facility creating a clean, safe, and healthy environment for employees returning the next morning.

Maybe the customer is not willing to pay for the day porters necessary or has a plan to provide employees with disposable disinfectant wipes per the CDC.5

One solution may be to have ServiceMaster focused on high touch objects (during the day or potentially at night) while employees are responsible for their own workspaces or items they or others may touch including public and shared areas.



How easily or quickly do surfaces become contaminated to spread infection?

We are only able to state that a surface is disinfected at the time that we complete the disinfection. If the facility is open and people, animals, insects, etc enter the facility then the surfaces are susceptible to contamination.

A study completed by the University of Arizona tested an office space for how quickly a pathogen may spread through a facility by contact. At 8am, a placebo pathogen was utilized a small to medium sized office space with 80 individuals. All were given droplets on their hands to start a normal workday, one person unknowingly received placebo virus droplets. Employees were asked to go about their day as usual and in educational research most people stay isolated and in their spaces throughout the day. After approximately four hours researchers found that greater than 50% of commonly touched surfaces and employee hands were infected with the placebo virus. 6

Multiple other studies show that cleaning and disinfection reduce specific pathogens to safe levels but within an hour, four hours, and especially at 24 hours in hospital spaces those counts increase back to unsafe levels returning to pre-clean levels (all dependent on the surface and traffic). 7

In summary, studies show that four-hour period allows for 50% of surfaces and individuals to become contaminated at unsafe levels in the workplace

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