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COVID-19 Advisory: White House Notes ~ Cleaning Surfaces ~ Genome Tracing


April 9, 2020
To: All Employees
From: Pandemic Working Group
Re: COVID-19: White House Notes ~ Cleaning Surfaces ~ Genome Tracing

White House Briefing
Last night, following the President’s comments, noting that persons with underlying conditions were the most severely affected by the pandemic, Dr. Deborah Birx reiterated that “everyone is susceptible of getting infected, not just those with underlying conditions” (such as asthma, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes). She surveyed trends within the U.S., finding that the NY-NJ-CT-RI area was experiencing 11,000 new cases per day with a 40% positivity rate of those tested, while, at the milder end of the spectrum, Los Angeles metro is experiencing 800 new cases per day and only 9% positivity. She was followed by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who found encouragement in the fact that daily hospitalizations, ICU admittances and intubations in New York City were leveling off. He added that “mitigation is having a positive effect, but you don’t see it until weeks later.” Consistent with these observations, we remain committed toward keeping our employees healthy and our workplaces safe.

Cleaning Surfaces

As per CDC guidelines, it is imperative to keep shared surfaces clean in order to help contain the pandemic. This is especially important in public places, but also applies in the workplace (where numerous people may use the same door handles, railings, etc.) and at home. The chart to the right, which is based upon information provided by the New England Journal of Medicine, shows the length of time during which the coronavirus can live on various surfaces. Two surfaces of particular interest are paper money, which can carry the virus for up to four days and disposable masks, which can do so for up to seven days. In light of these facts, it is prudent to use cash as infrequently as possible and to discard medical grade masks after one day’s use. As per the pictogram at the end of this advisory, we are providing CDC’s recommended guidelines for cleaning surfaces properly. As you know, we have doubled up on cleaning at our locations and continue to encourage frequent handwashing.

How the Virus Got to the U.S
According to an article from today’s New York times, using genome tracing from thousands of cases, geneticists from Mount Sinai and NewYork University in separate studies came to the same conclusion that the COVID-19 virus came to the New York region through people traveling back from Europe. Knowing that a virus mutates slightly each time it spreads from one person to the next, researchers collected and analyzed the genome of the virus from patients in different regions at different times. When a particular mutation that had infected multiple people in the EU mysteriously appeared in New York City, researchers concluded that that version was carried from one region to the other. Researchers also found that this virus was silently transmitting within New York weeks before the first positive test result on March 1. In similar studies, researchers in Washington state concluded that the virus first appeared in that region from one or more persons traveling back from Wuhan Province in China. Using similar methods, researchers from Penn State University have determined that the virus’s genome makes it clear that it arose from bats, possibly the Chinese horseshoe bat. As a point of encouragement, researchers note that the typical mutation occurring in a single transmission are insignificant and that, like other viruses, COVID-19 should be vulnerable to a single vaccine.

General Cleaning Guidelines

The CDC has issued guidelines on how to clean surfaces most efficaciously for control of the COVID-19 virus. We have captured them below for your convenience.


COVID-19: White House Notes ~ Cleaning Surfaces ~ Genome Tracing