How Safe is Your Store or Restaurant During A Deadly Flu Epidemic?
By Scott Crennan
As I try to kick my nagging cough, the aftermath of a nasty flu strain gripping the nation, I’m shocked to see the news each and every day and hear of children and adults of all ages, passing away within hours of symptoms.
In the 2014-2015 flu season, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention estimated some 34 million Americans became infected with one of the many strands of influenza, with 710,000 people hospitalized and nearly 56,000 deaths caused by the virus.
This 2017-2018 flu season is currently on track to surpass the number of positive influenza virus hospitalizations, with many more weeks still left in what is being called one of the worst in nearly a decade.
According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on a surface from 24 to 48 hours. Routine cleaning of surfaces helps reduce the spread of the flu, and with more consumers increasingly turning to online shopping, having your store and/or restaurant clean and sanitized often is more important than ever.
While people aged over 65 years are more likely to become hospitalized due to the flu virus, it is the age group between 50-64 that has economist most concerned. This age group holds most of the supervisory positions and are a major economic driving force.
With health departments in 49 states reporting widespread flu activity, it is important for all retail and restaurant environments to ensure they are combating this epidemic with proper cleanliness and sanitation.
While Flu season usually begins around October, it is during the December to February months that it reaches its peak, with flu activity extending late into May.
The CDC recommends a flu vaccine every year for everyone 6 months of age and older. While some vaccine effectiveness figures report that only 10% of vaccines are effective, the United States reported a 39% effectiveness against circulating flu viruses for its previous season.
To combat the many strands of the influenza virus that can be living on many everyday objects, facility managers must ensure they are making hand washing a huge priority, employers should also set up a strict sick policy to minimize the risk of infecting healthy employees.
This is also the most important time to ensure employees are keeping up with regular cleaning duties, while also having a professional team to handle routine restaurant and retail environments cleaning tasks, such as having kitchen hoods professionally cleaned and having ceilings and walls wiped down.
While cleaning and disinfecting highly trafficked areas are important, the actual flu virus is generally very fragile, standard cleaning and disinfecting practices are sufficient in containing and removing them.
Ensuring your facility has a sanitation plan in place will help keep your customers and facility safe this flu season.