By Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Well being Information
It was a down-in-the-mud presidential marketing campaign, however the dirtiest half comes on Inauguration Day.
As Joe Biden lifts his proper hand to take the oath of workplace at midday on Jan. 20 on the Capitol, a workforce of specifically educated cleaners might be lifting their palms to disinfect the White Home.
The manager mansion will get a deep clear after two COVID-19 outbreaks this fall led to President Donald Trump and members of his workers and household turning into contaminated.
The departure of 1 president and the arrival of one other is at all times a quick however extremely synchronized behind-the-scenes ballet by White Home workers members and transferring crews.
However this yr is completely different. The shift means greater than rearranging the Oval Workplace and placing new garments in bed room closets: It means a top-to-bottom disinfection amid a pandemic. Biden, who at 78 is taking workplace because the oldest president in U.S. historical past, is at excessive threat of issues from the virus.
So, the Normal Companies Administration will oversee an intensive cleansing and disinfection of each doorknob, rest room deal with, mild change, stair railing, phone, elevator button, pc keyboard and different objects contained in the 55,000-square-foot mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
However can such a big constructing get totally clear in simply 5 – 6 hours?
Consultants say that shouldn’t be an issue with a big sufficient workforce and preparation time.
Okay. Mark Wiencek, lead microbiologist for South Carolina-based Contec Inc., which sells cleansing provides to hospitals, mentioned GSA cleaners ought to concentrate on the rooms final occupied by the Trump workers, for the reason that virus cannot survive lengthy on surfaces. Cleansing crews, he added, ought to put on masks and gloves to guard themselves and never introduce any germs.
He really helpful changing the air filters and utilizing fogging and spraying disinfectant to kill viruses.
The GSA mentioned it’s already cleansing the White Home East Wing and West Wing workplaces day by day with disinfectant.
GSA officers mentioned they count on no difficulties in making the transition and pledged that every one furnishings and surfaces could be cleaned. “GSA will totally clear and disinfect the constructing areas between the administrations and make sure that every thing is as much as commonplace,” a spokesperson mentioned in an announcement.
It is important that cleaners depart the cleansing chemical compounds on surfaces a full 10 minutes earlier than wiping them down, mentioned O.P. Almaraz, a catastrophe aid knowledgeable in West Covina, California, and president of Allied Restoration, which has cleaned dozens of companies after suspected COVID circumstances.
“With a big sufficient crew, an expert disinfection firm may apply disinfectants to the whole White Home in six hours,” he mentioned. It is necessary, he defined, that the crew pay “particular consideration to factors which may be touched usually, like tabletops, door handles and light-weight switches.”
So long as cleaners have an organized plan for every room, Almaraz does not see them having hassle getting finished earlier than the Bidens transfer in on the finish of the day.
Sheldon Yellen, CEO of Michigan-based Belfor Property Restoration, mentioned cleansing crews should be rehearsed and in totally ventilated fits to scrub the White Home in a single afternoon.
“It is a stage 3 clear,” he mentioned, noting the constructing wants probably the most intensive service due to confirmed COVID circumstances. Which means disposing of something that does not have to remain for the Bidens, together with pillows and bedsheets. He mentioned books should be wiped down, not simply on the binding however all sides. He really helpful cleansing the ductwork and air flow programs as properly.
Jack Shevel, co-founder of San Diego disinfection firm Zappogen, mentioned that as a result of COVID-19 spreads by airborne transmission, it’s best to disinfect utilizing an electrostatic sprayer or fogger crammed with a disinfectant designed to kill airborne pathogens. That covers a big space extra simply than simply wiping surfaces.
“To actually disinfect all these rooms shortly and totally, they need to be sprayed with a high-quality micron mist that may attain all crevices and surfaces evenly,” he mentioned.
Nonetheless, the White Home cleaners should be cautious to take away work, antiques and different beneficial objects earlier than spraying with disinfectant, mentioned Ernesto Abel-Santos, professor of biochemistry on the College of Nevada-Las Vegas. These objects must be cleaned by hand.
Abel-Santos mentioned a easy alcohol-based disinfectant must be sufficient to kill the COVID virus. Though the virus will be detected on some surfaces for days, it sometimes degrades inside hours. Individuals are more likely to be contaminated by droplets expelled when somebody coughs, sneezes or talks.
Throughout the turnover, cleaners ought to concentrate on probably the most generally used areas of the constructing, he mentioned, such because the Oval Workplace and bedrooms. “The remaining can get deep-cleaned as wanted,” he added.
Much more necessary than cleansing, nonetheless, is asking the brand new president and his household and workers to bodily distance, put on their masks and wash their palms, in line with Abel-Santos.
“You do not understand what number of occasions in a day you contact your face along with your palms,” he mentioned. “Should you contact a floor after which contact your face, it will increase the chance of contagion.”
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Kaiser Well being Information (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It’s an editorially impartial program of the Henry J. Kaiser Household Basis which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.