For a truly safe church reopening, a touchless restroom experience is key
How have you seen the coronavirus pandemic affecting churches, especially in regards to reopening concerns?
William (Bill) Gagnon: Churches depend on maintaining a safe environment for their parishioners to gather and worship together as a community. As part of a safe environment, providing a clean and hygienic restroom experience is now a major concern for churches. Strategies and resources for addressing and stopping the spread of viruses and germs after a re-opening are now high-priority.
What are some of those strategies?
Gagnon: The main strategy that facility managers like churches are employing is to provide — as much as possible — a touchless restroom experience. Restrooms often have many common touchpoints of contagion, such as door handles, sink faucets and paper towel dispenser handles where viruses and germs can be spread from person to person. By eliminating those touchpoints and using touchless fixtures, churches can help curb the spread of viruses.
How are public health officials advising facilities on better hygiene?
Gagnon: It all starts with proper hand hygiene. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that proper hand hygiene is the best defense against the spread of the coronavirus and other germs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls it a “do-it-yourself-vaccine.” WHO recommends that everyone “frequently clean [their] hands…” and “dry [them] thoroughly by using paper towels or a warm air dryer.”
Certain hand dryer models, like our XLERATOR® Hand Dryer, are proven by independent testing to thoroughly dry hands in seconds. Since wet hands are far more likely to spread germs, this feature goes a long way towards best practices in hand hygiene for churches. By providing an environment where proper hand hygiene can be accomplished by all, churches will be a step ahead of the virus.
Are there any hygienic differences between paper towels or hand dryers?
Gagnon: Rumors and myths have circulated in the news about this topic, but looking at the hard science, the Mayo Clinic studied and reported on the different methods of hand drying. They found no difference in bacteria counts when drying with paper towels or hand dryers.
Recently, the University of Arizona conducted an exhaustive two-year review of relevant studies, news and reports about the hygienic properties of hand drying methods. They concluded that the Mayo Clinic study was the most scientifically rigorous research to date, and agreed with its findings of no significant difference in bacteria counts between the hand drying methods.
Also, health experts from WHO, CDC and Johns Hopkins University have concluded that while hand dryers alone can’t kill COVID-19, they do not spread the virus, either.
But going further, certain hand dryers like the XLERATOR feature a touchless, hands-under, sensor-activated design that thoroughly dries hands in seconds. Paper towel dispensers often require manual operation. The towels demand regular shipping, stocking, restocking and removal. When discarded, they can be left in damp piles on countertops, spilling out of trash cans or clogging toilets. These messes can provide breeding grounds for bacteria, which churches are looking to avoid during this pandemic and beyond.
What other considerations should church executives take into account for a safe re-opening?
Gagnon: Executives can look for other benefits that would boost restroom hygiene. The XLERATOR product line is available with a HEPA Filtration System, which was tested with 380 million viruses by LMS Technologies and proven to remove 99.999 percent of viruses from the airstream.
It’s also the only system on the market that includes a removable and washable metal mesh pre-filter, which blocks dust and particles and extends the life of the system. Easier and less frequent maintenance means more time available to attend to other responsibilities at the church. The HEPA Filtration System’s added level of protection is an available option for the XLERATOR and other Excel Dryer models, and easily retrofitted for those of our church customers who have existing XLERATORs.
With some strategic planning and decision-making that emphasize a hygienic restroom experience, churches can ensure they are taking necessary steps toward a successful and safe re-opening.