2019 has gone down as the most prolonged recorded flu season in the last ten years, thus far spanning twenty-one consecutive weeks of elevated activity.
What the Flu Means for You
The flu takes a devastating toll on individuals, communities, schools, and businesses, costing billions of dollars per year in health care costs and lost productivity, as well as tens of thousands of deaths.
Illnesses such as the flu can result in lost productivity for businesses.
According to the CDC and the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, U.S. employees miss approximately 17 million workdays due to the flu and contribute to $7 billion in lost productivity.
Thus far, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2018-19 flu season has caused:
- 37.2 million – 42.7 million illnesses.
- 17.2 million – 20 million medical visits.
- 524,000 – 637,000 hospitalizations, and;
- 36,100 – 59,600 deaths.
A significant contributing factor to the increased and sustained outbreak this season can be attributed to the number of office staff going into work sick and spreading their germs to everyone else.
A recent study by Staples tells us that 90 percent of the American workforce admits to coming into work when they are not only feeling under the weather, but know they are contagious.
Contagious people in the office mean, of course, that more germs are being spread around, and it undoubtedly increases the number of people who get sick.
Fortunately, there are several methods that school and custodial office staff can employ, especially during the flu season, that can reduce the instances of contact with the germ and mitigate risk to occupants.
Flu Prevention Tips
While currently somewhat controversial, medical doctors still agree that the single most effective method to prevent the spread of the influenza virus is to vaccinate every year before the outbreak begins.
Unfortunately, even in best-case scenarios, it is unlikely that everyone will comply with such recommendations, so additional practices must be employed to protect ourselves and others.
Staying at home and quarantining yourself is the next best step, but the Staples study has proven that such a practice is a long way from viable in any meaningful way.
That leaves the incredible burden of preventing the spread of this deadly virus on the shoulders of the cleaning staff, and each of us individually, so:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially before eating, and avoid hand to mouth, nose, or eye contact as much as possible.
- Wipe down known germ hot spots, such as mice and keyboards, handrails, sink faucets, and coffee pot handles regularly with a disinfectant wipe.
- Increase regular cleanings to daily cycles, if possible, but avoid the over-application of commercial disinfectants.
Lastly, and potentially most importantly given the appalling statistics regarding personal hand hygiene, is the application of liquid hand sanitizer, which can kill germs and bacteria on your hands in a matter of seconds.
Because it’s often easier to use hand sanitizers, people may be more likely to use it and do it more often than if somebody were just to stick with soap and water.
Even if the efficacy [of hand sanitizer] may be lower, it’s overall ability to prevent infection may be greater because it’s easier to do more often.
- Make sure to purchase/use a liquid hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, and;
- Apply liberally and allow to air dry after washing your hands or coming into contact with a potentially contaminated person or surface.
References & Resources
- US sees longest flu season in 10 years: 6 things to know
- Five Tips To Flu Prevention
- Fighting the Flu: Do Hand Sanitizers Work?
- Using Hand Sanitizers for Flu Prevention in the Workplace
The 2019-19 flu season is still going strong and showing no signs of letting up any time soon, ensuring schools and businesses will continue to bear the financial and management burden of sick students and employees.
The good, and perhaps surprising news, is that this does not have to continue if we choose not to let it and instead adopt more efficient and scientifically proven methods to prevent the spread to others and ourselves.
Regular, routine cleaning combined with proven hand hygiene practices can severely impact the influenza virus' ability to spread.
Onboarding the staff necessary to carry out the need for increased cleaning frequency is likely cost-prohibitive for most organizations, underscoring the importance and viability of outsourcing to an experienced service provider specializing in cleaning for health first.
Contact us today and discover why Vanguard Cleaning Systems® is the Standard of Clean® for businesses throughout Northwest Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma.
In Oklahoma, dial 918-960-4450
In Arkansas, dial 479-717-2410
In Missouri, dial 417-812-9777