As Bucks and Montgomery counties gradually reopen, a key concern must be addressed: Is the workplace safe so returning employees and others aren’t exposed to COVID-19? Critical employers ensure the work site is safe, but what should be done before anyone punches the time clock again?

“Reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening public spaces that will require careful planning,” says the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). “Everyone has a role in making sure our communities are as safe as possible to reopen and remain open.”

If you’re up on the numbers, you know the virulent disease remains a problem locally. In Bucks, more than 3,700 cases have been recorded, including 300 deaths, and in Montgomery, 4,400 cases and 306 deaths. The statistics grow daily with no vaccine as yet, so measures must be taken.

The CDC has issued guidelines for a safe reopening. Sounds good, right? But overzealousness has some people fighting the strategies. If we’re going to reopen -- and we should, but gradually and carefully -- then sensible guidelines is the right way to go. Let’s take a look at a “general framework” for cleaning and disinfecting the workplace, according to the CDC.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 can be killed if you use the right products,” according to the CDC. “EPA has compiled a list of disinfectant products that can be used against COVID-19 including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates and wipes. Each product has been shown to be effective against viruses that are harder to kill than viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.”

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. “Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is important,” the CDC guideline said.

If an EPA disinfectant is not available, an alternative can be used like this: 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water or 70 percent alcohol solutions. “Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together,” said the report. “This can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.”

Practice social distancing, wear a facial mask and “follow proper prevention hygiene.” Frequent hand washing is important.

If you oversee staff, said he CDC, provide “considerations about the safety of custodial staff and other people” carrying out the cleaning or disinfecting. Those workers are at increased risk of being exposed to the virus.

“It is critical that your plan includes how to maintain a cleaning and disinfecting strategy after reopening,” said the CDC.

And please remember, do not swallow or inject cleaning products.

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