KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Local environmental experts say people in West Michigan can take steps to keep themselves safe in the event the coronavirus, known as the COVID-19 virurs, makes its way to the region.
Wonder Makers Environmental is a Kalamazoo company that specializes in indoor environments. The company's consultants advise clients on how to deal with with viruses, and infection control. Michael Pinto, the CEO, said the volume of calls the company takes about coronavirus have shot up.
"It's been a little crazy, yes, and that's expected," Pinto said.
Pinto said people in West Michigan should prepare for when, not if, cases of COVID-19 start popping up.
"Just because we have coronavirus cases in Kalamazoo, doesn't mean that we're all going to die."
Pinto says the most important things people can do are wash their hands longer and more frequently, and disinfect and sanitize surfaces in their environments.
He said the latest research shows coronavirus can live on a surface up to nine days, which is two to three times longer than the standard flu.
“So that’s what’s making this potentially a little bit more scary. If I have somebody sneeze, and then it lands on the counter top, and I don’t clean or sanitize it, potentially, a week or more later, somebody could still put their hand down, go to their face, and now start that transmission all over again," Pinto said.
Kevin Little, the general manager of ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo's clean division, said his company is the first in the state to offer a service that disinfects surfaces faster and more effectively than anything else.
The company's Clorox 360 machine uses an electrostatic spray to cover every nook and cranny of any surface with disinfectant.
Little said businesses and individuals can hire the company to disinfect their homes or offices.
"It's a great way to help break that chain of infection. Just kind of do a reset on their facility," Little said.
Depending on how far in advance the treatment is scheduled, and the size of the area that needs disinfecting, hiring ServiceMaster to use the machine can cost hundreds of dollars, or more.
Pinto said he recommends the Clorox 360, and other contracted services, for people who are high at-risk for infection.
But, Pinto said being thorough with the disinfecting wipes and solutions available at most stores is an effective way to wipe out coronavirus.
Pinto said to make sure to check labels for effective ingredients, and focus on touch points like door knobs, light switches and key boards.
Some other things to keep in mind, Pinto said: all disinfectants have a dwell time; make sure the surface stays wet for that time for the full effect, which for the Clorox 360 is about two minutes.
Also, Pinto said, make sure to flush the toilet with the lid closed to prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses.