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What You Need to Know

COVID-19 is a disease that is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, one of the family of coronaviruses, a family that also includes the previously discovered SARS coronavirus, which explains the “2.”

COVID stands for Coronavirus disease; 19 stands for 2019.

Handwashing thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, social distancing, and wearing a mask in public places and other areas where contact with others may be expected.

There has been much controversy over this, and the environment plays a role (warmer temperatures and sunlight reduce SARS CoV-2 virus’ lifespan). However, the CDC and other top sources confirm that the virus can last from hours to several days depending on the surface.

Scientists originally believed droplets from an infected person were too heavy to remain the in the air long enough to be breathed in by another, but more research found the droplets are smaller and lighter than they originally thought, which is why they believe droplets that hang in the air is the No. 1 way the virus is spread.

No disinfectant works immediately. For a disinfectant to kill the virus three things must take place: (1) The surface must first be cleaned to remove all loose dirt and debris. Otherwise, the virus can be shielded from the disinfectant by the surface dirt. (2) The disinfectant must be on the EPA list of disinfectants approved to be effective against the coronavirus, and the disinfectant should list the coronavirus family on its label and SDS. (3) The disinfectant must be left on the surface for the full dwell time listed on the label and SDS. Otherwise, the surface will not be fully disinfected.

Dwell time refers to the time a disinfectant must remain in contact with a surface to reach the 99.999 percent kill rate mandated by the EPA for all disinfectants. Without the proper dwell time, the surface is not disinfected.

While some formulas work in as little as 30 seconds, the average is 3 to 10 minutes.

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the term “sanitizing.” The term was once reserved for “sanitizers,” cleaners that reduce (not kill) pathogens in 30 seconds by 99.9 percent, a level deemed acceptable by the EPA. Sanitizers are most often used in food service settings where sanitation and quick turnaround needs compete. More recently (really since COVID-19 and maybe because of the prolific use of hand sanitizers, a totally different cleaner) “sanitizing” has come to mean spraying a surface with a cleaner or a disinfectant without allowing the full dwell time for disinfection to achieve the 99.999 percent kill (vs. reduce) rate needed to disinfect.

The proper procedure to disinfect is to clean the surface thoroughly, then apply the disinfectant for the specific pathogen you are looking to kill, which must be listed on the label and SDS. Allow the full dwell time listed on the label. Then wipe the surface.

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