As Coronavirus rates start climbing again across much of the country it’s a good time to review what to do if a member of your staff tests positive. It’s especially important now as we move into the cold & flu season which, during “normal” years, would have required a more intensive cleaning schedule to reduce the passing of germs. 

There are a number of steps to take once someone tests positive. This is extremely time-sensitive and should be put into practice as soon as the positive result is received.

First, immediately close off all areas used by the person who tested positive. It may not be necessary to close down the whole facility if the infected areas can be wholly confined. Promptly notify any staff members and other people the infected person might have come into contact with over the last two weeks and recommend they get tested and begin a 14-day quarantine. This includes anyone that was within 6 feet of the infected person.

Next step: wait. Leave the confined area undisturbed for at least 24 hours before you begin to clean and disinfect it. If 24 hours is not doable based on the operations of the business, make sure and wait as long as possible. Increase the circulation of air as much as possible to “flush out” the area. Open doors and windows to circulate air and use a fan to push air outside. 

If your company is not using a professional cleaning service, make sure that any cleaning staff has the appropriate cleaning and disinfection chemicals, masks, and personal protective equipment (PPE). Wear disposable gloves and discard them after each use. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated to the cleaning and disinfection of COVID-19 surfaces. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed. 

Thoroughly clean and disinfect every area used by the person who contracted Covid. Begin cleaning when the least amount of staff will be present. If the surfaces that need to be disinfected are already dirty, they should be cleaned first using detergent or soap prior to disinfection. Before using chemicals, review the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure correct use. It’s critical not to forget anything that could have been touched, such as shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, copy machines, remote controls, elevator buttons, and ATM machines. 

Vacuum the space if needed. When vacuuming, use one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if available. Do not vacuum any room or space that has people in it. While vacuuming, turn off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that any particles that may escape cannot circulate throughout the facility.

Once an area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use. It’s good to note that workers without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.

Now more than ever, organizations need to take cleaning very seriously. The pandemic is still causing us to remain on high alert, and unfortunately is not trending in the direction we hoped it would. We all must continue to do our part and take necessary precautions. Our certified, professional staff is here to answer any questions, and help however we can in the fight against Covid.