Enacting a Strategy to Kill Germs & Viruses in Correctional Facilities
Correctional facilities have become a hotspot for COVID-19. In fact, recent studies have shown that the novel coronavirus has spread faster in America’ jails and prisons than it did on cruise ships or at the pandemic’s outbreak in Wuhan, China. Further studies by the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice report that the number of deaths among the incarcerated greatly exceeds national mortality rates. These numbers establish a pattern that experts suggest indicates the COVID-19 crisis in U.S. state and federal prisons is not yet slowing or subsiding. As of the end of 2020, more than 275,000 prisoners had been infected with COVID-19 and 1,700 have died.
Why Prisons & Jails Are Hotspots for COVID-19
There are myriad factors that contribute to the higher rate of spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities than in the general public, including close living quarters, little opportunity for social distancing, and shared facilities. This poses heightened risk for inmates, who report higher rates of chronic disease than the general population—which has been linked to increased risk for severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). However, the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities not only puts inmates at risk, but also the surrounding communities. In particular, jails, which predominantly house those awaiting trail or inmates serving short sentences, have a higher rate of churn than state and federal penitentiaries and so have a heightened risk of community spread.
While the recent emergency authorization of the COVID-19 vaccine will aid in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in correctional institutions, a slow vaccine rollout and the potential that a sizable number of inmates opt out of the vaccine may lead to even greater spread in the interim. This, in conjunction with other diseases like the flu that spread seasonally in jails and prisons, emphasizes the importance of taking preventative measures.
While studies have shown that COVID-19 can be transmitted via the air, there is also the potential for spread via contaminated surfaces when infectious droplets and bioaerosols in the air settle onto surfaces. These surfaces then pose the risk of transferring infectious material to individuals when touched. As a result, it is critical that correctional facilities extend policies like wearing masks and frequent hand washing to include implementing better disinfection procedures.
Below are some important tips for implementing a cleaning and disinfecting strategy in jails and prisons.
Correctional institutions are home to a myriad of shared spaces. When implementing a disinfection strategy, it’s critical to identify these spaces and ensure you have a plan for killing germs in each. For instance, state DOC’s have reported utilizing disinfection systems in housing units, offices, work spaces, inmate transport vehicles, and common areas.
There are a number of different methods for delivering a disinfectant. Spray-and-wipe is one of the most commonly considered methods. While spray-and-wipe can be effective, it is also time consuming as every surface must be sprayed with the disinfectant and remain wet for the time indicated on the label before being wiped. This proves a number of shortcomings for prisons and jails where there are a large number of surfaces to regularly disinfect.
Another method is the electrostatic sprayer. These devices positively charge droplets, which can wrap around surfaces for more complete coverage than a spray-and wipe-solution. While electrostatic sprayers can work in certain areas of prisons and jails, they again require a large time commitment as officers must manually spray each surface.
A third method is the dry fogger. These systems have benefits over spray-and-wipe and electrostatic sprayers as they eliminate the need for officers to manually apply the solution. Instead, the disinfectant is uniformly distributed throughout an environment via a dry fog, reaching germs in all the cracks and crevices where they lurk. Best-in-class solutions like the HaloFogger® can be turned on with a single push of a button, eliminating the tedious process of mapping rooms ahead of time and making the system easy to use with little to no training.
When evaluating disinfectants to fight COVID-19, it is imperative to first check the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) List N. All products included on List N have been approved to kill the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 when used according to the label directions.
When selecting a solution, it’s beneficial not only to consider COVID-19, but also to consider other diseases that occur in jails and prisons. For instance, HaloMist™ disinfectant (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) is included on both EPA List N and List K (approved to kill 99.9999% of C. diff spores), and its label includes kill claims for additional viruses, fungi, and bacteria like influenza, MRSA, norovirus, and E. coli.
Many prisons across the U.S. have evolved their disinfection strategies in light of the pandemic. The Delaware Department of Corrections (DOC) is one such example of a correctional institution that enacted a higher standard of disinfection to combat both COVID-19 and flu.
They have introduced the Halo Disinfection System® as a regular part of their disinfection routine, and increase usage in targeted areas if someone at the jail tests positive. Sgt. Stephen Shyers of the James. T. Vaughn Correctional Center is in charge of operating the HaloFogger® machine. In an interview with WHYY, he explained that he frequently sets up the machine in hallways and opens all doors to ensure the solution covers every area.
Disinfection is the Key to Preventing Illness in Prisons
While COVID-19 vaccines are deployed and testing processes improve, disinfection is still key to reducing not only the spread of the novel coronavirus, but other diseases that can spread in jails and prisons.
At Halosil, we have experience working with correctional institutions to provide reliable and easy-to-use disinfection solutions. For over a decade, our proven HaloMist™ sporicidal disinfectant has been trusted worldwide to kill germs. Contact Halosil today to learn more about our solution and see how it can help improve your current disinfection processes.
Mediaplanet has released its 2020 FIGHTING THE FLU campaign as a supplement to USA Today, which explores the heightened risk flu season poses to vulnerable populations during the pandemic and the importance of taking preventative measures. We are pleased to join dozens of other healthcare experts, advocates, and influencers in contributing to the campaign. Check out our featured article, “The Key to Opening Schools Safely”.
This winter, over 130,000 schools across the country are preparing for a flu season like none other. While flu season annually accounts for thousands of pediatric cases, this year nearly 60 million students and 7 million teachers and administrators are simultaneously dealing with a flu epidemic and the COVID-19 pandemic. With common symptoms of these illnesses overlapping—and the possibility of contracting both flu and COVID-19 at the same time—schools are challenged like never before to mitigate the risk of infection.
Halosil chairman and CFO David St. Clair sat down with Mediaplanet as part of the 2020 FIGHTING THE FLU campaign to discuss preventing infection through proper disinfection. In the discussion, he covered:
With may schools opting for a hybrid model for in-person learning, and some universities intending to bring students back to campus in the fall, there is the fear that schools may serve as a powerful vector for the spread of both COVID-19 and the flu. Although young children are often at a lower risk of mortality from both the seasonal flu and COVID-19 than older generations, there is the concern that children could expose their families—who may be in higher risk populations—to viruses.
To prevent the spread of pathogens, many schools are adopting more aggressive disinfection practices than in the past. However, simple spray and wipe disinfectants, which are commonly used in schools, have many drawbacks: they are labor intensive, must stay wet for severable minutes in order to remain effective, and miss pathogens in hard-to-reach areas. A more reliable disinfection process is needed for the 2020-2021 flu season.
To combat the shortcomings of spray and wipe systems, schools are increasingly adopting whole room disinfection systems to eliminate pathogens across buildings, including classrooms, locker rooms, nurses’ offices, gymnasiums, and cafeterias. Whole room disinfection systems like the Halo Disinfection system® are capable of uniformly delivering a disinfectant via a dry fog that does not wet surfaces. The most effective disinfectants can achieve a 6-log (99.9999%) kill rate against some of the most challenging pathogen types.
From a legal perspective, whole room disinfection systems must be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Specifically, the EPA will register each disinfectant with the particular fogging machine with which it must be used. Unless the solution is registered by the EPA, it is illegal for a fogging system to make any type of kill claim. For instance, HaloMist™ disinfectant is registered for use with the HaloFogger® dry-fogging system. It is included on what is called “List N“, the EPA’s listing of disinfectants registered for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
While encouraging news pertaining to a COVID-19 vaccine has been announced in the last few weeks of 2020, inoculating a sufficient percentage of the population to have an impact on the spread of COVID-19 will be a gradual process. In particular, vaccines can face various obstacles such as the time needed to manufacture them and specific requirements for storage that may impede distribution. As such, schools should continue to adhere to CDC guidelines like wearing masks, washing hands frequently, and social distancing. In addition, implementing a proven disinfectant solution that can fight the flu and COVID-19 can go a long way toward helping schools develop better illness mitigation strategies this winter and in the year to come.
To learn more about preventative measures to mitigate the spread of disease, check out the FIGHTING THE FLU issue for insights from other healthcare experts and innovators, and view our full article here.
NEW CASTLE, DE (November 9, 2020) —Halosil International, Inc., the leader in whole room disinfection across a broad range of applications and environments, has sold Halo Disinfection Systems® to dental offices across the nation for use against SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. By utilizing the HaloFogger® to uniformly distribute HaloMist™ (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) across rooms, dental offices are able to more efficiently and effectively eliminate pathogens.
After routine cleaning (e.g. removing visible dirt or debris) is concluded, dental offices can simply turn on the HaloFogger® in touchless mode and allow the machine to run its disinfection cycle until completion. The fogger’s dry-fog delivery allows dental offices to kill pathogens in hard to reach areas throughout the waiting area, patient rooms, and offices.
Neumann Family Dentistry is one of many dental offices satisfied with the ease-of-use and efficacy of the Halo Disinfection System®. “We ran the system for an hour, and then let it sit overnight,” said Jenny Neumann of Neumann Family Dentistry. “When we went in the next morning, we were astounded on the range of the disinfectant… This machine is great and we are so pleased that we invested in it.”
The application of the Halo Disinfection System® in dental settings aligns with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) statement that routine cleaning and disinfection procedures are appropriate for SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare settings such as dentists’ offices. The CDC directs dental practices to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List N for EPA-registered disinfectants that qualify under the emerging viral pathogens program for use against SARS-CoV-2.
HaloMist™, Halosil’s proprietary hydrogen peroxide and silver-ion based disinfectant solution, has been included on the EPA List N.
“For years, we’ve been working with healthcare facilities to eliminate pathogens like C. difficile and influenza from environments,” said David St. Clair, Chairman and CFO at Halosil International. “Applying our proven system to dental practices was a natural extension of our ongoing relationship with hospitals, surgical centers, and long term care facilities. We are pleased to bring our hospital-grade disinfectant to dental settings.” Contact Us
Winter is approaching and administrators at many colleges and universities are preparing for the impact cold weather may have on the spread of COVID-19 and overall campus health. Now is the time that schools are making decisions in regard to next semester, and—for some institutions—are looking at reopening their campuses in a greater capacity after a partially or fully remote fall semester.
Yet, case counts remain high at academic institutions across the nation. As of November 5, the New York Times reported that 252,000+ cases of COVID-19 had been documented across 1,600+ colleges and universities throughout the U.S. Of those schools, over 50 had reported at least 1,000 cases and more than 400 had reported at least 100 cases.
In addition to concerns over the spread of COVID-19 this spring, universities also must deal with the flu—a seasonal epidemic that spreads during the fall and winter months. With COVID-19 reaching its third peak in the U.S. as flu season begins, some experts worry about the risk of co-infection with COVID-19 and the flu.
To protect students, faculty, and staff across campus, schools must enact an aggressive and intentional approach to reopening that combines social distancing, masks, and disinfection. Yet, identifying the right disinfectant and delivery method to meet the needs of academic institutions can be challenging. For schools that may be offering in-person learning in the spring semester, you should ensure your disinfection plan considers:
Start by analyzing your campus to identify all of the environments that require disinfection. In particular, consider shared spaces such as dining halls, libraries, classrooms, common rooms, and gyms where many students congregate. Frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles and elevator buttons, should be disinfected regularly in these areas.
At the same time, it is critical to also consider items like shared tablets or library books that may move locations. According to a recent study in the healthcare industry, communal medical equipment that moved from room-to-room was found to be more likely to spread the virus that causes COVID-19 than stationary surfaces, which are often cleaned more thoroughly. Learning from this example, it is critical that academic institutions enact a strategy that can reach all surfaces in high-traffic environments.
For cleaning crews, however, it is logistically infeasible that a disinfectant be manually applied to every surface in an environment like a library or school gym. As such, academic institutions require a disinfectant delivery method like a dry fogger that can reach pathogens in all of the cracks and crevices where they lurk, without leaving a sticky or wet residue that is common in spray and wipe methods.
Making certain your cleaning crews and janitorial staff are educated on proper disinfection processes is crucial. Part of these initiatives must involve selecting the right disinfectant and delivery method for your team.
When choosing the right disinfectant, first check that it’s on the EPA’s List N of approved solutions for use against SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. When narrowing down the list, it’s beneficial to next consider a disinfectant that is effective against a broad range of pathogen types. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus—one of the most susceptible viruses to disinfectants. Schools should search for a disinfectant, such as HaloMist™, that is also approved for a number of other common pathogen types in academic setting like influenza and MRSA.
When choosing a delivery method, academic institutions should consider ease of use and risk of exposure for cleaning crews. For instance, disinfectants like bleach require cleaning crews to manually dilute the solution, exposing them to potentially harmful levels of the solution and risking human error in the dilution process. Other delivery methods, like UV light systems, miss pathogens in shadowed areas like under desks and tables. When paired with an EPA List N disinfectant, dry foggers (which uniformly reach all surfaces in an environment) and electrostatic sprayers (which positively charge disinfectant droplets that can then wrap around surfaces) offer the greatest coverage.
While promising news regarding vaccine trails presents hope for an end to the pandemic, it is important to implement a whole room disinfection strategy that can be consistently utilized until that time. As a system that can operate entirely in touchless mode, dry fogging technology like the HaloFogger provides a significant benefit over attended solutions as it decreases labor costs to operate the machine, minimizes cleaning crew contact time with potentially contaminated surfaces, and mitigates the risk that cleaning crews will miss an area.
Further still, HaloMist offers a two-year shelf life, one of the longest shelf lives of any dry fogging disinfectant. This allows schools to not only stock up in advance in the event that supply shortages return as cases rise, but also to stock disinfectant to use beyond the pandemic to fight pathogens like MRSA and influenza that are common at academic institutions.
When preparing for the spring semester and beyond, it’s critical to ensure you have a comprehensive disinfection strategy in place. For years, Halosil has worked with academic institutions ranging from primary and secondary schools to top colleges and universities to eliminate pathogens. Today, our proven HaloMist™ (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) is being utilized around the world to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Contact Halosil today to learn more about how to improve your current disinfection strategy.
From the common cold to the flu, cases of illness often spike during the colder months. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the flu—a seasonal epidemic—is estimated to kill between 290,000 and 650,000 individuals each year.
With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise as flu season approaches, this winter will be particularly challenging for healthcare facilities as they are predicted to experience a greater influx of patients than normal. This not only means potential equipment shortages like facilities faced at the beginning of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but also a need to effectively disinfect shared equipment before each use.
In particular, healthcare facilities will need to take special care to disinfect shared equipment that moves from room-to-room. According to a recent study by Vancouver Coast Health, shared equipment is a high point of pathogen transfer in healthcare environments and may be more likely to spread COVID-19 than stationary surfaces. The study found that in facilities where COVID-19 was already present and more enhanced cleaning practices were in place, the majority of positive samples of SARS-CoV-2 (the pathogen that causes COVID-19) came from communal blood pressure cuffs and other medical equipment that moved from room-to-room. This emphasizes the critical importance of disinfecting mobile and shared equipment as frequently as stationary surfaces like door handles and sink faucets.
As healthcare facilities work to eliminate pathogens across shared equipment, they must ensure their whole room disinfectant and delivery method uphold three core standards:
Healthcare equipment can be costly and delicate. When selecting a disinfectant, it is critical that efficacy does not come at the expense of damaging sensitive equipment by using a wet or corrosive solution. Beyond truly damaging equipment, other delivery methods such as electrostatic sprayers can leave behind a sticky or wet residue that creates a “dirty” feeling when touching equipment that has been sprayed. A fogging system—like the HaloFogger®—ensures a dry delivery of a disinfectant that does not damage sensitive electronic devices present throughout healthcare settings or leave behind a residue on surfaces.
SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped pathogen, which is one of the most susceptible pathogens types to disinfectants. However, healthcare facilities face a myriad of pathogens that are more challenging to kill on surfaces. Clostridium difficile (C. Diff) spores, for example, can survive high temperatures, ultraviolet light, and harsh chemicals, making them particularly challenging to eliminate. Due to its resiliency, C. difficile is considered the leading case of hospital acquired diarrhea in Europe and North America. When selecting a whole room disinfection solution to kill pathogens, healthcare facilities should consider solutions that can not only meet their disinfection needs against COVID-19, but also eradicate more challenging pathogen types. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released List N of products for use against SARS-CoV-2. This list can be cross referenced with List K to find products like HaloMist™ (EPA Reg. No-84526-6) that meet both the standards to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 and more challenging pathogen types like C. diff.
A disinfectant is only as effective as its ability to reach pathogens in all the places and spaces they lurk. Particularly in healthcare environments, which are home to many immunocompromised individuals, pathogens must be uniformly eliminated to mitigate the risk of hospital acquired infections. By utilizing dry-fogging technology, healthcare facilities can reach pathogens in all the cracks and crevices beyond the reach of standard spays, wipes, UV light systems, and electrostatic sprayers. Further still, dry fogging systems like the HaloFogger® work entirely in touchless mode—removing the risk of human error and minimizing exposure by cleaning teams.
At Halosil, we have a long legacy of providing reliable whole room disinfection solutions to healthcare facilities. Today, our proven HaloMist™ disinfectant is trusted by healthcare facilities around the world to eliminate a myriad of spores, including SARS-CoV-2, C. difficile, MRSA, and influenza. Contact us to learn more about our solution and evaluate if your current disinfection strategy can be improved.
Ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) serve as satellite healthcare facilities for a variety of medical needs, offering a myriad of services—ranging from dental, ophthalmological, orthopedic, surgery, endoscopic, and obstetric/gynecological care—that allow patients to receive care outside of a hospital setting at often more convenient locations. Yet, just because ASCs are remotely located from hospitals does not mean they are isolated from the risk of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), such as surgical site infections (SSIs) caused by endogenous bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, Enterococcus and coagulase-negative Etaphylococcus.
In the past, ASCs were considered to have low infection risks. This was due to the fact that outpatients often have less severe illnesses, the duration of office visits are generally brief, and the majority of procedures are minimally invasive. However, recent trends in healthcare have challenged this notion. Since 1975, the number of active hospitals in the United States has declined by 12% (from over 7,100 hospitals to just over 6,200), while the number of ASCs has increased significantly, with more than 9,280 active ASCs in the U.S. today—meaning individuals who once would seek treatment at hospitals are visiting ASCs instead.
On top of this increase in active ASCs and decrease in active hospitals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted a 2010 report from the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) that found lapses in infection control were common among a sample of ASCs in 3 states. This report elicited an active response from the CDC, which has since more heavily stressed the need for proper infection control assessments and disinfection efforts.
As the number of ASCs continues to increase in the United States, so too do the risks of infection, thus making proper disinfection methods necessary. Below, we take a look at the CDC’s core recommendations.
Practice Hygiene With Healthcare Personnel
In order to make disinfection efforts easier, it’s important to first practice hygienic efforts across an entire ASC staff. Such efforts include regular hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, and injection safety. For instance, when handling ill patients, such as those with suspected Clostridium difficile or norovirus, it’s paramount to regularly wash hands with soap and water, especially before and after caring for a new patient. Alcohol-based hand rubs (ABHR) can be used in the absence of soap and water; however, handwashing provides the highest level of disinfection.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should also be worn by ASC staff members whenever possible since it can prevent the initial exposure to an infectious agent altogether. Such PPEs include gloves, gowns, facemasks, respirators, goggles, and face shields, which can reduce staff exposure to potentially dangerous pathogens that may be in patient blood or body fluids, mucous membranes, and non-intact skin. Finally, injection safety practices should be carried out among ASC staff to prevent the direct transmission of infectious diseases between patients and staff members. Safe injection practices include not using the same syringe or needle to administer medication to multiple patients, not reinserting a used syringe with or without the same needle into a medication vial or solution container, not preparing medications in close proximity to contaminated supplies or equipment, and wearing a facemask when injecting patients.
Disinfect ASC Equipment & Environments
While infection prevention efforts are necessary and recommended by the CDC, it’s also critical to regularly disinfect ASC equipment that can have infectious pathogens on it. In particular, frequently used medical devises, especially those that are reusable and shared, require regular disinfection. Such devices can include critical items, semi-critical items, noncritical items, and environmental surfaces.
Critical items are medical devices that come into contact with sterile tissues, cavities, or bloodstreams, which can include surgical instruments, cardiac and urinary catheters, and ultrasound probes. Semi-critical items are medical devices that come into contact with non-intact skin or mucous membrane, but do not penetrate soft tissues, which can include endoscopes, and a variety of probes. Noncritical items are often medical devices that only contact the skin, which can include blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, hospital beds, and furniture. Environmental surfaces and areas that have been visited by infected patients should also be routinely disinfected, such as floors and walls. In order to properly disinfect these surfaces, the CDC recommends using disinfectants registered under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with label claims for use in healthcare.
Keep Patients On The Move-Not Germs
When it comes to properly disinfecting equipment and environments in ambulatory surgery centers, Halosil’s EPA-registered HaloMist™ is the ideal whole room disinfection solution. Delivering the highest level of efficacy at the most affordable rate, our dry fogging disinfection solution achieves universal coverage across complex and sensitive spaces, ensuring that pathogens on critical equipment and environments in ASCs are properly eliminated.
Ready to eliminate infectious pathogens in your ambulatory surgery center?
As the summer winds down and schools come into session again, academic institutions have had to make the difficult decision on whether to restart classes in-person or remote. For many, particularly in higher education, the decision was made to take a hybrid approach to learning that allows students to opt-in to in-person classes. For those who chose to physically return to classrooms, they also include new rules around social distancing, rotating days of in-person classes, and routine disinfection.
To prevent a steady increase of cases, both on college campuses and in K-12 academic institutions, educational facilities must not only uphold these strict new standards, but also quickly identify and isolate ill students and faculty from the rest of the school if cases break out. However, as the weather becomes colder, health experts are concerned that quickly identifying symptoms of COVID-19 may become more challenging as they are similar to the symptoms of respiratory illnesses that are more common in the winter.
As a result, it is vital that reopening schools consider evaluating and updating their cleaning and disinfection practices in line with the latest guidelines by the CDC.
When considering a disinfection strategy, high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces must be priority zones for whole room disinfection. In schools, these can include classrooms, cafeterias, locker rooms, and gymnasiums. Colleges and universities introduce additional spaces that must be disinfected, such as dorm common spaces, gyms, dining halls, and libraries. In particular, facilities like nurses’ offices and student health centers where potentially COVID-19 positive individuals may go when they notice symptoms must be routinely disinfected.
When evaluating surfaces to disinfect, consider the following guidelines:
• Routinely disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, computer mice, and shared desk spaces.
• Clean, but don’t disinfect, general outdoor areas such as benches.
• Consider removing communal items where possible, such as shared tablets and art supplies.
Since the start of the pandemic, many cleaning crews have reported they lack the time and training to effectively disinfect facilities against COVID-19. For schools, it is critical to ensure janitors and cleaning crews are equipped with the knowledge and tools needed to both disinfect rooms and protect themselves from infection.
Solutions—like diluted bleach—that require janitors to mix cleaning products themselves are not ideal as they expose cleaning crews to chemicals that can cause harm. In addition, they introduce the risk of user error, which can result in improperly mixed ratios and inconsistent disinfection results. Ideally, cleaning crews should be provided a whole room disinfection solution that is easy to use and mitigates the risk of human error that is inherent when manually applying disinfectants. The EPA’s List N provides a list of approved solutions.
Along with more rigorous disinfection practices, schools must enforce social distancing that can limit human-to-human spread. These include placing desks 6 feet or more apart, prohibiting or limiting large gatherings of students, requiring face masks in all public settings, and taking students’ temperatures regularly.
As educators around the world continue to evaluate and refine their plans for back to school, it’s critical to consider a disinfection strategy that pairs the highest levels of efficacy with the flexibility and usability academic institutions require.
At Halosil, we have a long legacy of providing whole room disinfection solutions to daycares, K-12 schools, and colleges and universities. Today, our proven HaloMist™ (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) solution continues to be trusted by academic intuitions across the nation as an EPA List N disinfectant approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19. Contact Halosil today to learn more about our solution and evaluate if your current disinfection strategy is up to the task.
Vaporized hydrogen peroxide treatment modified by a Michigan State University veterinary team to decontaminate N95 masks for health care workers has been approved on an emergency basis by the Food and Drug Administration. The team is continuing to work with the FDA towards a September start of large-scale decontamination operations. MSU is the first and only public institution to receive this authorization to date.
When Columbus-based Battelle Memorial Institute received emergency use authorization for its VHP process (Halo Fogger) in March, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., M.D., tasked an effort that included the conversion of an animal housing area into a nine-room decontamination center now capable of cleansing tens of thousands of masks each week.
University Veterinarian F. Claire Hankenson, Director of Campus Animal Resources, is leading the project along with the MSU Office of Regulatory Affairs.
VHP was already in use at MSU sanitizing animal areas when the COVID-19 pandemic sparked widespread shortages of personal protective equipment for physicians, nurses and other medical personnel.
“We estimate that within our dedicated facility, running the VHP cycles five days a week, we can effectively decontaminate and redistribute approximately 14,000 masks per day (7,000 masks per cycle and two cycles per day) and up to 70,000 masks per week,” Hankenson said. “Over the coming fall and early winter, with a potential second surge of COVID-19 cases in the state (which may converge with influenza season), the MSU VHP decontamination process could ultimately recycle more than one million PPE devices back into the supply for the state of Michigan.”
Having received the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization, MSU can expand its service beyond the original two partners in the pilot phase of the program: Sparrow Health System based in Lansing and Henry Ford Hospital System in Detroit.
“These health care partnerships will be essential for the successful execution of this project,” Hankenson said. “The Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the office of Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin and others have all been heavily invested in the FDA EUA application and share in the success of this approval.”
Masks are critical for the prevention of exposure to pathogenic airborne particulates. According to the emergency use authorization rules, N95 masks can be decontaminated up to three times using MSU’s VHP process. Sanitation extends mask life during shortages as well as saving health care dollars when PPE supply chains are stressed or interrupted.
“This is big: MSU experts working with Sparrow Hospital gave us the ability to sanitize masks for our health care workers fighting on the frontlines against COVID-19 –– and the FDA has approved that sanitization process," Slotkin said.
"Michigan, like so many other states, has been at the mercy of a medical supply chain with production, middlemen, and customs officials in other countries, and we just can’t let that happen again as we prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19, said Slotkin, D-Holly. “Now that the FDA has approved this process, our community will be better prepared and protected if cases spike again. I’m grateful to the FDA for its approval and to the professionals at MSU for their hard work, dedication and ingenuity.”
In early 2020, the majority of workplaces in the U.S. transitioned to full-time remote operations due to the spread of COVID-19. Through social distancing efforts, employers aimed to protect workers by minimizing interactions with one another. Today, as states begin to reopen, employers are now challenged with how to continue to keep employees healthy by minimizing the transmission of COVID-19 across their workplace.
While the decision when to return to the workplace—if at all—will vary by company, most employers are investigating methods to decrease transmission of COVID-19. This requires employers to consider tactics from all angles: the people, the workspace, and the disinfection strategy.
Consistent with the CDC’s guidance that people wear face masks in all public settings where they will encounter individuals who do not live in their home, some employers are advising or requiring employees to wear face masks in the office. This requirement stems from reports that face masks can have a notable impact on curbing the spread of the COVID-19. According to a review and meta-analysis funded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and published in The Lancet, the risk of transmitting COVID-19 is 17.4%; with an N95 respirator or face mask, that number drops to 3.1%. Based on these recommendations, employees are often encouraged to wear face masks, particularly in shared or public spaces.
The modern office space is known for open floorplans and shared workspaces. While ideal for collaboration, the COVID-19 pandemic has made employers recognize that such conditions are a breeding grounds for disease. As a result, employers are considering ways to reconfigure the workplace to minimize shared spaces where pathogens may linger on surfaces. Cubicles, although often associated with an outdated workplace, are being considered as they limit contact with high touch surfaces like desks, chairs, and phones. In addition, some workspaces are contemplating plastic, see-through partitions that feel more modern than the traditional cubicle but can act as a sneeze or cough guard.
Prior to the pandemic, corporate cleaning staffs typically “freshened” lobbies every three hours, sanitized restrooms every four hours, and cleaned other areas at night. Today in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers are demanding increased cleaning cycles and contemplating solutions that go beyond cleaning to disinfect surfaces. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s List N of products that meet the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, is being referenced to identify best-fit disinfectants. However, not all solutions deliver the efficacy, flexibility, and usability some workplaces require. For workplaces with electronics like computers and printers, it’s important to find a solution such as the Halo Disinfection System® that’s dry fog delivery can be used around sensitive electronic devices.
Preparing Workspaces for the Return of Employees
Whether employers expect employees to return in the near term or plan to remain remote for the upcoming weeks or months, it’s critical to take a multi-pronged approach to curbing the spread of infection. Whole room disinfection solutions such as our Halo Disinfection System® can play an integral role in these efforts. As a List N solution, our HaloMist™ (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) is approved for use in office spaces to eliminate pathogens wherever they lurk.
Companies are choosing to use the Halosil Disinfection System over many new products on the market that are turning out to be insufficient and in some circumstances dangerous.
As the summer months wind down and September approaches, students and faculty prepare to return to school and get back into the routine of another academic year. However, as students and teachers get back to school, they also get back to the threat of infection posed by dangerous germs and pathogens that are commonly spread in educational facilities, such as those that cause respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), rhinovirus, enterovirus D68, and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), among others.
With approximately 55 million students and 7 million staff attending more than 130,000 public and private schools in the United States, the heightened risk of transmitting dangerous pathogens in schools comes as no surprise. The threat of infection in educational environments at all academic levels stems from the volume of students, frequent sharing of toys and supplies, close quarters of the classroom environment, and increased susceptibility amongst children populations. In fact, schools represent the lion’s share of cases for many commonly known infections.
For instance, most flu activity has been driven by illness in school-aged children, with hospitalization rates among adolescents who are younger than 5 years old (7.7 per 100,000) being the highest among all age groups. Similarly, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued recommendations and guidelines for MRSA protocols in schools and daycares since the bacterium can be easily contracted and cause severe health problems including sepsis, bloodstream infections, and pneumonia.
For school administrations and facilities, disinfection is a necessary aspect of facility maintenance. Following are some pointers to consider when creating a whole room disinfection strategy for your education facility this fall.
Before an effective whole room disinfection plan can be carried out in the classroom, it’s necessary to differentiate between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. While these three terms sound similar, they all vary in principle and provide different levels of protection from germs. Cleaning simply removes germs, dirt, and impurities from various surfaces or objects. Although cleaning can decrease the number of germs present, it’s important to note that its use of soap and/or detergent does not kill many of them. In other words, a clean classroom is not necessarily a classroom that is germ free.
Conversely, disinfecting kills almost all germs that are present on surfaces or objects. While this process does not clean surfaces or remove germs altogether, effective disinfection does radically lower the presence of pathogens by killing them. Finally, sanitizing is focused on simply reducing, rather than essentially eradicating, bacterial or viral pathogens on surfaces or objects. Although all three of these approaches are helpful in addressing dangerous pathogens in the educational environment, it is important to note that only disinfecting can truly kill almost all germs that are lurking in the classroom.
However, it’s also important to note that not all disinfection methods are created equal. Sprays and wipes can offer some level of disinfection, but their lack of ability to reach all nooks and crannies present on a wide variety of surfaces in a classroom or locker room can leave pathogens lurking in the shadows. For these reasons, it’s important to trust in disinfection strategies that can offer full area coverage, such as disinfectants that are distributed using a dry fog that fills a room.
While a number of infectious diseases like the flu virus are primarily spread from person to person through the coughs and sneezes of infected individuals, high-touch surfaces are also responsible for spreading disease-causing pathogens. Objects such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning tools, and toys are just some of the culprits. Frequently used and commonly shared items like these promote the transmission of pathogens between students and teachers.
For obvious reasons, these surfaces and objects need to be disinfected routinely and correctly—not just when they are visibly soiled. When doing so, it’s critical to match your disinfection solution to the types of germs that need to be killed. For instance, the flu virus can potentially cause infection for up to 48 hours after landing on a surface. Meanwhile, bacteria like MRSA can survive on surface areas for hours, days, or even weeks. Since the pathogens of different bacteria, viruses, and fungi have varying life spans on surfaces, it’s best to use a broad spectrum disinfectant that can kill all three of the major classes of organisms with outstanding efficacy.
In order to effectively kill a wide range of germs in the classroom, the CDC recommends (and Federal law requires) the use of product registered under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); specifically, registered antimicrobial disinfectants. Many of these disinfectants are documented to kill 99.9999% of even the most resistant germs, resulting in temporary, nearly sterilized conditions in the educational setting.
While the EPA has multiple lists of legally registered products, its List K includes disinfectants such as HaloMist® (EPA Registration No. 84526-6) that are extremely effective against C. difficile spores, a form of one of the most difficult pathogens to kill. HaloMist® is also a disinfectant registered under the EPA and proven to be effective against pathogens of the flu virus, the norovirus, MRSA and others. By delivering thorough disinfection as an EPA-registered bactericide, virucide, and fungicide, HaloMist® offers broad spectrum protection against some of the most persistent and dangerous pathogens. Non-corrosive and bleach free, the product can also be safely used around electronics and in environments frequented by children.
Spreading knowledge doesn’t have to mean spreading germs, too. At Halosil, we allow educational environments to leverage our whole room disinfection solution to achieve the highest possible efficacy on the market today. Our proprietary Halo Disinfection System® uniformly distributes our HaloMist™ disinfectant via dry fogging to ensure that every classroom, cubby, and cranny is free of disease-causing pathogens—all with a hands-free approach that requires no rinsing or wiping.
Companies are choosing to use the Halosil Disinfection System over many new products on the market that are turning out to be insufficient and in some circumstances dangerous.