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COVID-19 Guidance for Facilities Management Staff

COVID-19 is a respiratory virus that is spread mainly through person-to-person contact. This means people who are in close contact with one another, which the CDC considers six feet and closer. The virus is transmitted via respiratory droplets which are produced when an infected person sneezes or coughs. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of a nearby person, or droplets can be inhaled into the lungs, causing infection to occur. It is also possible that transmission can occur by touching a surface that the virus has been introduced to and then touching your mouth, eyes, or nose. 

Symptoms of the virus may appear anywhere between day two and day fourteen of infection. There have been reports of mild to severe symptoms.  Below are the main symptoms to look for:

  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Muscle Pain
  • Sore Throat
  • Shortness of breath
  • New loss of taste or smell

An important thing to remember about the symptoms is that people can be infected with the virus without showing any symptoms. For these reasons, social distancing (physical distancing), proper hygiene, and elevated disinfection practices are our most effective means to protect ourselves and others from the spread of COVID-19. 

How to protect yourself and others?

The best way to prevent this illness is to avoid becoming exposed. Social distancing (physical distancing), and personal hygiene are the most important measures within your control to slow the spread of COVID-19. Social distancing (physical distancing) is to maintain a minimum distance of six (6) feet between yourself and others. Other examples include:

  • If you become ill at work, avoid others, contact your supervisor, and go home.
  • Stay home if you are ill.
    • If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, consult with your healthcare provider.
  • Avoid handshakes, hugs, and high-fives. 
  • Substitute face-to-face meetings, classroom training, and onsite assessments with Video-Conferencing and Video-Telephone applications, such as ZOOM, Apple’s FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, etc.  
  • Use larger conference rooms if in-person meetings are absolutely required.
  • Implement staggered start-times, breaks, and quit-times or other shift change procedures to minimize staff contact.
    • If staff share a space (control room, EMCS office, etc.) or equipment, post-shift and pre-shift disinfection procedures should be developed and implemented to reduce potential exposure.
  • Reduce the number of employees assigned to projects. The task may take longer to complete but this creates a safer work environment.

If your work task requires you to enter an occupied room or office with a student(s), staff, or faculty member present, ask them to leave the room and always maintain a distance of six feet from the person. If they are unwilling to exit the room or office, work with them to identify a time when they will no longer be in the space so you can maintain your distancing practices. If the person states they are sick, or in isolation and cannot leave the room, STOP, do not proceed, exit the space, and contact your supervisor immediately. Entry into isolation rooms requires specific training and personal protective equipment to safely enter such rooms.

Community Protective Equipment.

All employees, students, and visitors must adhere to the Face Covering and Mask Requirements.

If you learn of a possible new case in the Cornell community or observe unusual behaviors from community members, you should avoid the area, note any pertinent information (location, behavior, etc.), report it to your supervisor and await their direction prior to re-entering the area to perform service request. If you observe a sickly student, encourage them to contact Cornell Health at 607-255-5155 (24/7) to seek advice and care.

Social distancing should be combined with proper hygiene, frequent handwashing, and periodic disinfection practices. It is important to stop the spread of germs by:

  • Never touch your face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

  • Require regular hand washing or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Workers should always wash hands when they are visibly soiled or after touching high-touch surfaces, including phones, shared tools, doorknobs, light switches, and restroom fixtures.
    • At a minimum, you should wash or sanitize your hands at the completion of every service request prior to accessing your vehicle and traveling to a new location. 
  • Employees should periodically clean their high touchpoints and electronics that Building Care would not normally clean. Contact your Associate Director of Building Care for information on procuring disinfection products.
    • If you believe your work area could be contaminated take a few moments to wipe it down with an EPA-registered disinfectant.
    • Please note that Building Care staff have increased their disinfection practices to include high touch points and restrooms in occupied facilities across campus to two-times per day in their assigned facilities. 
  • Bring a change of clothes to work so that if necessary, soiled clothing can be removed. Then wash soiled work clothing immediately when you return home.

Staff must continue to utilize their section’s (Building Care, FM Trades, Grounds) personal protective equipment chart to meet the University’s minimum personal protective equipment requirements. At this time respiratory protection to protect against COVID-19 is only required for those staff who are making patient contact, entry into isolation rooms, and COVID-19 Research. However, a NYS Executive Order now requires face coverings to be donned when employees are unable to social distance at work and in public. Evidence shows that many individuals who are carrying the virus are not showing any symptoms (“asymptomatic”) but can still transmit to others. The cloth coverings shall be used when and where social distancing is not an option or difficult to maintain. This control could help slow the spread of the virus by keeping those who have the virus but do not know it yet, from spreading it to others around them.It is imperative that we embrace and implement the distancing, hygiene, and disinfection procedure outlined above. At this time, it is extremely important we are performing hazard assessments prior to and during our work tasks to manage our risk and continue to send staff home the same way they came in each day. Visit the Cornell University Coronavirus Updates webpage for resources, updates, and frequently asked questions specific to Cornell University.

Click here to access the COVID 19 EHS guidance page