UPDATE: As of Jan. 11, 2024
Since this blog post’s publication in early December 2023, respiratory virus numbers have risen significantly, pushing the country toward a “tripledemic” that experts initially thought might not happen. While optimism was high early in the viral season, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the majority of states in the U.S. are now experiencing “high or very high” levels of respiratory illness activity. The flu, in particular, has risen dramatically, with the most recent CDC estimates showing that there have been at least 10 million illnesses, 110,000 hospitalizations, and 6,500 deaths from flu so far this season.
The urgency to adopt proactive facility management measures is more critical than ever. The risk of illness transmission remains high, underscoring the importance of revisiting and implementing the strategies outlined in our original blog post, which you can read below.
While this year’s cold and flu season isn't expected to be as challenging as last year’s “tripledemic” of influenza (flu), COVID-19 and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)—which infected millions and killed more than 100,000 people in the U.S. over a 4-month period—recent reports from the CDC indicate that cases of these illnesses are already on the rise. So far this year, positive cases of flu and RSV are beginning to surge in parts of the U.S., with RSV now being the number one cause of death among U.S. infants, and the CDC reporting that there have been at least 5,300 hospitalizations and 330 deaths from the flu already this season.
This activity comes as we move through the holidays, which translates into an increased risk of illness transmission due to ongoing celebrations. As cases of the flu, RSV, and COVID-19 rise in communities, taking a proactive approach to facility management is crucial to creating a safe environment for everyone.
Tips for Maintaining Healthier Operations This Winter
If current respiratory illness trends continue, facility and operations leaders will want to boost their cleaning resources and refine their strategy. Here are three tips on how they can maintain healthier operations across their facilities in the coming months:
Increase focus on cleaning and disinfection – A regular and consistent cleaning program, with increases in touch point cleaning through the winter season, is required to combat the spread of all types of cold and flu-causing germs.
Surface cleaning is essential – Whether it is an office building, shopping center, or school campus, people have a heightened awareness of cleanliness as a lingering effect of the recent pandemic. Proper surface cleaning and disinfecting can mitigate a host of pathogens known to spread on surfaces – including RSV – and it’s vital to partner with experts who understand which surfaces must be both cleaned and sanitized to prevent the transmission of illnesses.
Invest in a professional cleaning program – Outsourced facility service programs deliver effective results administered by trained professionals who know how to clean and disinfect nearly any type of building or facility, including those in regulated industries. For example, they know how to apply chemicals safely and effectively, reducing risk to the public. In addition, they can deploy the latest technology and best practices to help eradicate germs and rebalance toward a “cleaning for health” approach. A cleaning for health methodology adjusts programs to holistically consider facility type, the concentration and flow of people utilizing the facility, the various surfaces and materials used throughout, and more.
Although the flu outlook for this season is not as bad as last year, there is still plenty of reason for concern based on the latest data from CDC and other agencies. Facility managers thinking about reducing their cleaning budgets due to lingering inflation and other economic pressures should strongly reconsider. These tips serve as a good starting point for maintaining healthy operations during the winter months.