The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released updated guidance to help facility operators and families alike properly clean and disinfect spaces.
Developed in concert with the White House, the guidance provides step by step instructions for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes and falls in line with the Opening Up America Again guidelines.
“These guidelines will provide all Americans with information they need to help the country reopen as safely as possible,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “These cleaning and disinfecting protocols will help ensure the health and safety of everyone in our homes, schools, offices, and businesses.”
“Proper and effective cleaning and disinfecting are important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. “As our nation reopens, this guidance is critical to help Americans return as safely as possible to work, school, and other daily activities within their communities.”
EPA’s expertise on the safe and effective use of disinfectants against the virus that causes COVID-19 informed the development of this comprehensive plan. The guidance offers a practical, three-step process for preparing spaces for reopening: develop a plan, implement the plan, and maintain and revise the plan.
Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is an important, two-step process central to any effort to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, the EPA and CDC said, including:
- Clean: Use soap and water to remove germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfect: Use disinfectant products to kill germs on surfaces. Killing germs on a surface after cleaning can further reduce the risk of spreading infection.
The EPA has compiled a list of disinfectant products including ready to use sprays, concentrates, and wipes that can be used against COVID-19. Always follow the product label instructions, the EPA and CDC said, including leaving the product on the surface long enough to kill germs, rinsing off the product to avoid ingesting it, and putting the product out of reach of children right away.
Also, the EPA and CDC said people should avoid overusing or stockpiling disinfectants or personal protective equipment such as gloves to prevent shortages of critical products needed for emergencies.
When disinfectant products on the EPA list aren’t available, the guidance provides other techniques for disinfecting surfaces that are as effective in reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
The EPA and CDC said that this guidance does not replace other measures that still need to be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. It is still important to continue practicing social distancing, wear cloth face coverings, and wash your hands frequently, they said. People should continue to follow federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance as well, they added.