Maintaining high levels of quality and consistency regarding specific behaviors--cleaning, hygiene, and social distancing--are critical in the fight against COVID-19 and other viral pathogens.
Assessing and Grading Individual COVID-19 Prevention Practices
Reducing the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is at the top of everyone's mind.
For years, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has maintained a set of simple guidelines for preventing the spread of respiratory illness, typically focusing on annual influenza outbreaks.
All of these guidelines have proven transferable and critical in the fight against the latest SARS outbreak and have been encouraged or enforced to varying levels by state and local officials.
However, it is no secret that various areas around the country, regardless of social distancing and PPE enforcement, have struggled with controlling the spread of the virus.
In an attempt to understand why the virus continues to spread, seemingly unabated, Luther College Psychology Professor Loren Toussaint devised a questionnaire in the hopes of correlating individual behavior within a community to the community's success or struggle in containing and eliminating the spread.
A professor at a small college in Iowa has helped to develop a test to determine how good of a job people are doing of avoiding behaviors that lead to the spread of COVID-19.
Luther College Psychology Professor Loren Toussaint and his colleagues have crafted a sort of quiz that assesses the hygienic and social distancing habits of people during the pandemic.
The assessment asks participants to rank on a scale of one to five how well they're doing things like throwing used tissues in the trash, avoiding contact with sick people, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.
Toussaint says the recommendations the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention are making pertaining to COVID-19 prevention tend to center around behaviors related to cleanliness and one's ability to contain his or her own germs.
The list of nine straight-forward questions assess just that.
COVID-19 Clean and Contain Scale
Professor Toussaint's questionnaire consists of 9 questions that ask the respondent to grade their level of compliance on a scale of 1 to 5.
- About half the time.
- Most of the time.
The questions are as follows.
Use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, if soap and water are not readily available?
The use of hand sanitizer when soap is not available is highly advisable, especially after:
- Exiting public spaces, such as grocery stores.
- Changing a diaper, or
- Coming into contact with pets, livestock, or feed.
Keep in mind that hand sanitizer is an inadequate replacement for soap, and should only be used in accordance with manufacturer guidelines.
Avoid Touching Your Eyes, Nose, and Mouth With Unwashed Hands?
This practice is conventionally referred to as hand awareness--paying attention to what you touch in public, especially well-known germ hotspots, and consciously avoiding touching your face, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, which have membranes that allow germs and bacteria to enter your body.
It has been estimated that hand-to-surface contact accounts for approximately 80% of the spread of common illness.
Avoid Close Contact With People who are Sick?
One of the simplest methods for avoiding contact with a pathogen is to stay away from people who are sick or demonstrating symptoms.
Presently, it is believed that SARS-CoV-2 is most commonly spread via inhalation or ingestion of contaminated droplets expelled from an infected person when coughing or sneezing--less commonly when breathing or speaking.
The droplets tend to fall within six feet of the infected person, so spending as little time within that radius as possible will significantly reduce the likelihood that you encounter the virus.
Put Distance Between Yourself and Other People if COVID-19 is Spreading in Your Community?
Though the asymptomatic spread of SARS-CoV-2 appears to be negligible, in instances where community spread is prolific, it's best not to take unnecessary chances.
As previously discussed, the virus tends to fall within 6 feet of an infected person when expelled from the mouth or nose, so observing minimal social distancing guidelines when you have to be in public is a solid recommendation.
Cover Your Mouth and Nose With a Tissue When you cough or Sneeze or use the Inside of Your Elbow?
Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze serves a similar purpose as a mask with less room for error.
Doing so into your elbow avoids spreading germs directly onto your hand and contributing to surface contamination or passing it along to another person via direct contacts, such as when shaking hands--an act that has become somewhat of a pariah of late.
Throw Used Tissues in the Trash?
Used masks and tissues are often contaminated with an infectious version of the virus.
Throwing them away in designated receptacles helps prevent the spread through accidental exposure, especially for those required to clean up the mess.
After Coughing or Sneezing, Immediately Wash Your Hands With Soap and Water for at Least 20 Seconds?
Soap breaks down the lipid--a layer of fat--surrounding the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which deactivates it.
Additionally, soap creates a layer between your skin and any microbes--dirt, germs, or bacteria--and scrubbing your hands with soap and water removes them.
The sooner you wash your hands with soap and water after coughing and sneezing into them, the more likely you are to reduce the spread of any pathogen.
After Coughing or Sneezing, if Soap and water are not Readily Available, Clean Your Hands With a Hand Sanitizer That Contains at Least 60% Alcohol?
As previously mentioned, soap and water are not always immediately available, but alcohol-based hand sanitizer is ideal in such situations and will kill any germs or bacteria on your hands.
Keep in mind that hand sanitizer is not very effective on soiled or visibly dirty hands and that it has a laytime and should be allowed to air dry.
Clean AND Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces?
Enhanced surface cleaning and disinfection will remove and kill any pathogen, including SARS-CoV-2.
However, no disinfectant is certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to provide ongoing disinfection for a virus once the surface is recontaminated, underscoring the importance of:
- Regular high-performance cleaning.
- Routine touchpoint disinfection, and;
- Occupancy and use monitoring to ensure each area of a facility is being well maintained.
References & Resources
A crucial component to halting the spread of COVID-19 and other viral pathogens is to consistently adhere to specific best practices, most of which take only a few minutes per day but have been proven to save lives.
Take a moment and assess your own compliance levels and see if there are ways you can help protect yourself and your loved ones during these trying times.
If you would like more information regarding the effectiveness of high-performance infection prevention and control measures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite assessment of your facility's custodial needs, contact us today for a free quote!
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