Reopening a Business After Shutdown
Buildings and places of business have been shut down for months, quietly waiting for inhabitants to return. As businesses continue to reopen, in addition to concerns about monitoring, preparedness, and prevention for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that leads to COVID-19), there are other safety risks to be aware of.
Be Thoughtful About Re-Entry – Plan Ahead
COVID-19 has become a constant reminder of many risks we face, but when it comes to buildings and facilities, it shows why they need to be monitored and maintained. Things like mold and Legionella bacteria, among other health risks, may have propagated in closed buildings and can pose a significant threat. The CDC has recently released new guidelines for reopening commercial buildings after long periods of closure, which recommends flushing air systems, removing stagnant water, and disinfecting high touch point surface areas.
As we discuss reopening, we will focus on the two main microbial hazards listed above – mold and Legionella. Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a severe type of lung infection, or pneumonia developed when people breathe in water droplets containing this bacterium. Legionella typically grows during extended periods of inactivity depending on certain factors, including water usage patterns, preexisting Legionella colonization, water temperatures, plumbing factors, and disinfectant residuals. We have more information about Legionella coming in the next weeks
Mold growth can begin in as little as 24-hours thriving in moist, damp areas. Mold can grow on a variety of building materials such as wood, wallpaper, carpet, drywall, insulation, ceiling tiles, and fabric. With air conditioning shut off and a lack of humidity control, buildings and facilities can present an ideal environment for mold, potentially causing severe health issues in people with weakened immune systems, respiratory conditions, or allergies.