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Coronavirus cleanup: Who is doing the disinfecting?

(Photo courtesy of jeshoots.com)

Several businesses and schools in the Seattle area have gone into deep cleaning mode after discovering that someone in the building had been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). One company that has been receiving more calls is Bio Clean, which has been dealing with the messiest things in people’s lives since the late ’90s.

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“Homicides, suicides, meth contamination, transient encampments, hoarding conditions. Pretty much anything no one else wants to touch,” said Bio Clean’s Lisa Martinez.

Remember the movie “Sunshine Cleaning?” It was based on the life of Bio Clean’s founder and president, Theresa Borst.

“Theresa was an OCD house cleaner for several years and a member of Search & Rescue,” Martinez explained. “She went to a presentation and they showed a video of a suicide, and during that video she said, ‘Oh my god, that’s so horrible. Who has to clean up that mess?’ And they said the family does. She said, ‘That’s wrong. Families shouldn’t have to be traumatized twice. Someone else should have to clean it up.’ So in 1998, she opened up Bio Clean as a trauma scene business.”

Martinez said coronavirus cleaning isn’t much different from any other work they do.

“We work from top to bottom, ceiling to floor, cleaning all the touch surfaces. Door knobs, light switches, cabinets, counter-tops. When we do a door, we’re not going to just clean a door knob. Because, as we know, you don’t just grab a door knob. If it’s an office with elevators, computers, desks, we’re cleaning everything first and then using a good disinfectant that’s been recommended.”

Bio Clean chooses cleaning products based on recommendations from the CDC.

“Probably the hardest thing about doing something like coronavirus or C. diff or is that you don’t see it,” Martinez said. “When you clean up after a suicide it’s an obvious area that you’re cleaning. Their counter-top at home or their business could look clean, but we don’t know if somebody just sneezed on it or touched it that had coronavirus, or C. diff, or MRSA, or any of those kind of illnesses. You can’t see it so you have to make sure you’re cleaning all the surfaces really good.”

Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s office is launching an investigation against companies that are taking advantage of the health crisis and price gouging customers. Martinez said she’s been hearing reports of cleaning companies doing just that.

“These people are coming in and charging $300 an hour to spray down and disinfect everything,” she said. “We’re not changing our pricing.”

Martinez said they still don’t know how long the virus can stay alive on hard surfaces. She’s heard everything from two hours to five days.

Listen to Rachel Belle’s James Beard Award nominated podcast, “Your Last Meal,” featuring celebrities like William Shatner, Rainn Wilson, and Greta Gerwig.

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