COVID-19 and Flu Remediation
As you know Los Angeles has become the nations center in the fight against COVID-19. If you or someone in your office has been infected or suspect infection, remediation is needed and should take place quickly. Oranges & Lemons suggests the following protocol for disinfecting your space.
1) Masks & Goggles/Face shield Required
If someone in your home has been infected with COVID-19 or the flu, wearing a mask will help reduce the likelihood that the virus will spread within your household. The CDC recommends masking along with isolation to protect everyone in the household. A face shield or googles could also be helpful for the person who may be interacting with the infected person. While gloves and shoe covers could be helpful to reduce the spread of the virus, a full protective gown may not be needed since the virus is not spread through contact with the skin.
2) Air Purification
We have always recommended the use of air purifiers in DTLA. It's a dusty neighborhood, and the regular use of a air purifier will help control dust. This tool will also help control the virus. More and more scientific evidence points to the virus being air born. A HEPA filter is the best option, but if you don't have that, you can make your own simple air purifier using a MERV 13 filter and box fan which will capture 90% of the virus in the air. Check out videos on Do it Yourself air purifiers for instructions. If you can't get a hold of an air purifier, the last resort would be to keep the windows open (weather permitting) or at least periodically open the windows to increase circulation and reduce the viral load indoors.
Before you can kill the virus, you must clean the surfaces to ensure it is uncovered. Spraying a disinfectant without cleaning first reduces the efficacy of the cleaner because that virus might be protected by a thin layer of dust or dirt. Soap and water will kill most of the virus, but effective disinfection will result in eliminating 99.9% of the virus.
Please know that all of these actions cannot guarantee that the virus will not spread, but will significantly reduce the likelihood of additional infections. These steps will help reduce the viral load in an indoor environment.
Oranges & Lemons offers COVID-19 remediation. Our plan includes air purification before the team arrives to clean and disinfect. Our disinfection team uses electrostatic sprayers to safely and effectively attack and eliminate 99.9% of the virus. For the disinfection to be effective, cleaning is recommended beforehand. Please contact our office to schedule our disinfection service.
Do you need a Move Out Cleaning?
If you are getting ready to move out of DTLA, you might be thinking about cleaning your loft before you hand it back to your landlord. Here are a few things you should know before you request a move out cleaning.
Oranges & Lemons will miss you! You have been part of our community and we are sorry to see you go. We hope we have one last opportunity to work with you by providing a move out cleaning. We hope your new home will treat you well and perhaps someday you will return to the most unique community in the city.
Excerpt from Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner article in ISSA Magazine
One of the most common questions people are asking these days is: How long do infections viruses and bacteria live on surfaces?
Viruses and bacteria deposit and exist on surfaces indoors of virtually any facility, they can also remain viable for hours, or even days, dependent upon the fomite material, microorganism type, and indoor environmental characteristics.
Like everything in life, the viability of a virus or bacteria is a function of molecular structure. Viruses are not really "alive" because they cannot reproduce by themselves. So instead of asking how long a virus or bacterium can live on a surface, we should ask how long they remain infectious.
According to the EPA, American's spend 93% of their lives indoors. That means only 7 % is spent outdoors, or only one half of one day per week in the fresh air. We are basically an indoor species.
People often think the reason we get colds and flu more often in the winter is because it's cold outside. This is false. We get colds and flu more often in the winter because we are generally indoors, where the humidity is lower and we are exposed to higher concentrations or airborne pollutants, including cold and flu viruses.
What is a fomite?
The potential for transmission of bacteria or viruses in by indirect contact (i.e. via fomites) is linked to their ability to survive on commonly touched surfaces. However, although there have been studies, big gaps remain in knowledge, evidence, and data on this subject.
What is a fomite? A fomite is any inanimate object that may be contaminated with infectious agents and serve in their transmission and spread disease. These inanimate objects carry germs that cause infection. Examples would be: cutting boards, kitchen sponges, toothbrushes, cups, the floor, etc. Bacteria and viruses can remain infectious for a surprisingly long time on almost anywhere you may touch, even inside refrigerators and freezers.
There is limited information on how surface contamination is transmitted by human touch. When we touch an object, we transfer bacteria or viruses to a surface or accumulate more bacteria or virus on our hands. A contaminated surface can be touched by a number of people, and each of these individuals subsequently touch other surfaces as they move around. Each of these now contaminated surfaces can be touched again by other people, and so the touching sequence continues.
We know that contaminated surfaces and objects can transmit disease agents, and that discarding contaminated objects, surface cleaning and disinfection, and hand washing with soap or hand sanitizer, can decrease the risk of infection.
Research has shown that surfaces in crowded indoor environments have measurable levels of viruses. Most research has focused on the flu, but similar results are found for norovirus, SARS, and MERS. These studies and many others confirm that viruses that are known to cause communicable diseases in humans are commonly found on surfaces, but it must then be determined whether they are viable and potentially infectious to humans.
A study entitled Survival of influenza viruses on environmental surfaces in the Journal of Infectious Diseases tracked the viability of influenza viruses on various surfaces, finding that they remained infectious up to 48 hours on hard, non-porous surfaces, such as stainless steel, plastic and up to 12 hours on porous surfaces, such as cloth, paper, and tissues. Moreover, fomite transmission of influenza viruses was considered possible because influenza viruses could be transferred from stainless steal to hand from up to 24 hours after contamination, and from tissues to hands for up to 15 minutes after contamination. The viruses subsequently survived on hands for an additional five minutes after transmission.
A study concluded that the human corona viruses can remain infectious on surfaces, outside the body, at room temperature for up to nine days. Another study in March 2020 found that the virus can survive for up to three days on stainless steel and plastic, four hours on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard. However, the amount of viable virus decreased much more quickly than that, and we need to be exposed to a certain 'dose' before becoming infected. But sometimes a small amount is enough. More research is needed in this area.
Prop 22 has happened before. Approximately 30 years ago domestic referral agencies (the precursor to the app based gig economy) formed a coalition to legally exempt themselves from being designated as employers (AB1370). These housekeeping services were audited by the California EDD and were charged with misclassifying their cleaning technicians as independent contractors instead of employees. With their tax liability growing to over $2.5 million, they fought hard to have their business model receive special treatment. In 1994, they were ‘carved out’ of standard employer classification guidelines. To this day, this business structure allows them to avoid paying employment taxes, workers compensation insurance, provide paid time off, or savings plans as required by state law. They are not liable for any damage that may happen during a cleaning service. Referral services do not provide training of any kind, including how to work safely during a pandemic. All risk and responsibility falls upon the independent cleaner and the client.
On average, referral services collect 40% of the cleaning charge as their referral fee. This fee is used to promote their referral service, recruit new cleaners, and staff their appointment desk. None of this fee is used to support the cleaners besides finding more houses to clean. An unhappy client usually means the cleaners will not receive another booking through the referral service. They may use their referral fee to offer discounts and compensate unhappy clients. Referral services will claim they are lower cost than employee based services because they do not provide uniforms or transportation. In truth, they offer slightly lower fees because they do not pay employment taxes or contribute to employee protection measures.
There are certainly benefits to the referral system. These services certainly make it easy to find someone to clean a home and for some cleaners to find work. The service fees are often lower than what a cleaning business with employees might charge (because referral agencies don’t have to pay employment taxes). But these benefits come with some significant risks. During the pandemic, many housekeepers were let go or not called in to clean by their customers. These individuals did not qualify for unemployment insurance because they are considered independent contractors. Also, clients are at risk because a housekeeper could make a credible claim that they are the cleaner’s employer. If the cleaner is hurt at the client’s home, the client could be liable to cover medical care.
Some argue that the independent contractor model provides cleaners (or in today’s case drivers) the flexibility to work when they choose. In truth, a flexible model is possible with employees as well. Oranges & Lemons allows their team members to create their own schedule. They provide their hours of availability and we schedule work accordingly. Some of our team members work at other employers and use the flexibility our structure provides to enhance their income. Team members enjoy flexibility and employment protections. Is it a bit harder to manage? Sure it is. But we feel this provides our teams with the best working structure.
AB 1350 changed the working environment for many housekeepers over 30 years ago. Prop 22 has the potential to have a more profound effect on drivers as it is unlikely an employer based model will develop if it passes. We support all workers having basic protections and hope that all members of our community encourage businesses to protect their team members as well.
COVID-19 Protection at Home
Many people are thinking about ways to keep their space healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are a few things you can do today:
1) Upgrade to a HEPA filter in your AC unit.
Most scientist agree that COVID-19 is airborne and transmits most easily through this method. If the COVID-19 virus is in your home, the HEPA filter could capture it and prevent it from spreading. HEPA filters are more expensive than standard filters because they capture smaller particles. Don't forget to change your AC filter regularly (ideally every two months). It can be expensive, but your health is worth it. Honestly, even without the worries of COVID-19, a HEPA filter in your AC unit will help capture all the dust particles that are sneaking into your loft now from freeways and streets.
2) Take off your shoes when you come home.
If you live in DTLA, this should be standard practice even without COVID-19 to worry about. Get yourself some nice house shoes and leave the street shoes at the door.
3) Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
The good news is that surface transmission of COVID-19 is quite rare (not impossible, but rare). That said, disinfection of frequently touched surfaces is just good practice.
4) Wash your hands as soon as you come home.
Instead of wearing gloves, wash before you leave and as soon as you get home. Wash your hands right before you put on your mask and then after you take it off. This helps prevent transmission.
5) Open the Window.
If you can, open your windows when possible and especially if you have essential workers in your home. Opening the window helps circulate the air. If COVID-19 is present, opening the window helps reduce the concentration of the virus in your space. The downside of opening the window is the noise pollution and dust will make its way inside. You don't have to keep the window open all the time, but opening it up at least once a week will help circulate the air in your space.
6) Put your cloth face mask in the hamper.
Treat your used cloth face mask they way you would treat used underwear. Place it in the hamper as soon as you take it off! It may be tempting to leave it on the kitchen counter, or on the floor, but do you really want what may be on it spread all over your dining table? Not a good idea!
We hope you have found these tips helpful. Oranges & Lemons is here to help our neighbors make their lofts comfortable and clean and we look forward to helping our neighbors any way we can.
Disinfection takes two
It is not practical or even possible to disinfect every single surface in a given area. Focus on high-touch areas and easy transmission paths that can spread disease. But before you use your disinfectant, be sure to clean first. Disinfection without cleaning is kind of like taking a bath with your clothes on. You will get clean, but probably not as well as you would like. So before you start to disinfect, dust or wipe down with soap and water. Cleaning first will kill 97% of germs and viruses. But if you want to kill 99.99% of those yuckies, you have follow up with a disinfectant. Be sure to read the instructions for your disinfectant. Most take at least five minutes to be effective. That means the keeping the surface wet so the disinfectant can do its job. Also, be sure to test the disinfectant on the surface you are using. Some are quite strong and etch surfaces or leave stains. The Oranges & Lemons team has been trained on how to properly disinfect surfaces. Let us help you keep your home 99.99% germ free.
Are you ready for a loft cleaning?
Did you know that both janitorial and residential cleaning is considered an essential business during the safer at home order? You may have been cleaning on your own and are now ready for a deep clean. Here are some guidelines to make sure you and your cleaning service are ready to work together:
We are proud to announce that Oranges & Lemons has competed training with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council for COVID-19 cleaning and is now certified with the organization.
The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) serves government, commercial and private entities such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, school campuses, hospitals, airports, corporate offices, etc. GBAC implements and executes a full-scale approach to biorisk preparation, response, and recovery. Learn more about GBAC here
Truly, the first thing you should do before cleaning the bathroom is make sure you have a great playlist. The right soundtrack makes this chore a bit easier. But once you have that taken care of, make sure you have your vacuum ready to go. It may surprise you, but the first thing you should do when cleaning your bathroom is vacuum it! The bathroom is a wet area, and that means that dust, hair and debris will stick to surfaces during the cleaning process if you don't remove them first. Start by vacuuming the bathroom vent. There is likely quite a bit of dust accumulated there. Once that is taken care of vacuum around the edges of the bathroom to catch all the stuff that accumulates in the corners. You may feel that you are doing double duty, but this method does make floor cleaning easier.
You don't have to pay much for housekeeping services. You can easily find someone who will charge you $20 per hour or less. But should you pay that much? In order for an independent housekeeper to earn the minimum wage, she should be paid at least $25 an hour. For someone to earn a living wage, they need to earn closer to $30 an hour. In DTLA, where housekeepers face additional expenses due to parking and traffic, the pay should be closer to $35. Those rates may seem exceptionally high for housecleaning, but this rate is needed a for an independent contractor to cover their expenses and be able have a decent life.
Some expenses that housekeepers must manage are transportation, parking, supplies. In addition, they are also responsible for replacing items that they may break. Accidents happen and a responsible cleaner will be accountable for their actions. If you pay low rates, your housekeeper may struggle to compensate you for damage. A housekeeper can pay for general liability insurance, but will need to charge rates to support that additional cost.
So while you can pay less, the responsible choice is to pay a fair price. But it can be hard to identify a fair price. To help you with your decision making process, Oranges & Lemons has developed a price comparison worksheet. Click on this link to access your copy of our comparison worksheet. Click on "Make a copy" to have a private copy saved to your google drive.
Melanie at Oranges & Lemons