NORTHBROOK, Ill.—May 20, 2020—In this edition of Straight Talk with Jeff Cross, Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner of the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC), a division of ISSA, discusses risk assessment and infection prevention protocols for facilities and cleaning professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Macgregor-Skinner, an infection prevention expert, works in hospitals and nursing homes to provide “just in time training” to frontline professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. He notes that beyond doctors and nurses, the cleaning, food service, laundry, and other staffs at these facilities are also essential workers who are exposed every day to COVID-19, but many of them have not been properly trained in the use of PPE.

There is a lot of research being done about different ways to kill the virus, such as ozone and UVC light, but in many cases, the frontline housecleaning staff don’t have access to all of that research. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner says GBAC’s goal is to bridge that gap: “How do we take the science down to the front lines?” In his role, Dr. Macgregor-Skinner also ensures proper training for cleaning staff in the correct use of disinfectants to deactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

When it comes to implementing widespread infection prevention protocols throughout society, Dr. Macgregor-Skinner had an experience recently at airport security that demonstrates we still have some work to do. Coming through security, the TSA agent wanted to pat him down, but Dr. Macgregor-Skinner refused because he had just been working in a hospital with COVID-19 patients and he did not want to risk exposing the agents should he be carrying the virus. “This is an area we have to think about,” he said. “How do we do security at airports with no-touch technology? We’re not there yet.”

However, even though there’s still work to do, Dr. Macgregor-Skinner believes it’s possible to begin reopening the economy safely if we are strategic about it. “We can do this, we can open up, but it’s understanding and defining, what does that new normal look like?” Each type of business will need to determine the tools and technology needed to conduct business safely. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner notes that everything from the layout of the physical space, to payment processes, to physical screens and barriers must be considered from an infection prevention standpoint, and no-touch technology should be implemented wherever possible.

“It’s doable, but it takes training, it’ll take some supervision, it’ll take management, it’ll take a paradigm shift in making this work, but it definitely can be done,” said Dr. Macgregor-Skinner.

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