Cleaning top priority for state buildings

A sign on the Richardson & Robbins Building front entrance details online services available. (Submitted photo/DNREC)

DOVER — Cleaning operations continue day and night, and extra supplies are incoming or already received.

The cost of maintaining 87 state-owned buildings and 166 leased spaces is undetermined, but the extreme importance of the job outweighs any budget estimate given the significance of limiting the spread of coronavirus, Office of Management and Budget spokesman Bert Scoglietti said Wednesday afternoon.

“Keeping facilities clean is highest priority now,” Mr. Scoglietti said.

The state expects 500 tubs of disinfectant to arrive for cleaning staff to use, along with two pallets of sanitizing spray and 200 wall mounted sanitizer stations.

Cleaning vendors are following standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with directives by the Delaware Division of Public Health, Mr. Scoglietti said.

Twenty high traffic buildings such as courts and the Townsend and Collins buildings receive day service in addition to the night time cleanings, Mr. Scoglietti said. OMB oversees customer service facilities and administrative buildings.

“During this time of uncertainty critical state operations must be maintained,” Mr. Scoglietti said. “We quickly instituted additional measures to help protect our employees from exposure to the COVID-19 virus in our buildings including increased cleaning and disinfecting in our high traffic buildings and providing hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.”

Suspended visitations

On March 12, the Delaware Division of Youth and Rehabilitative Services suspended visitation to Level IV and V facilities. The secured sites affected includes New Castle County Detention Center, Stevenson House Detention Center, Ferris School and the Residential Cottages.

Close to 100 youth are held at those sites.

“Our Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services staff have been very responsive to this health crisis, supporting one another and continuing to provide core programming for our youth,” said director John Stevenson. “They are working to ensure that we operate as normally as possible so our youth have a stable and therapeutic environment even as this situation evolves.

“We commend their efforts every day, but especially during this time. They have risen to the challenge and are working to be there for one another, and for our kids.”

In addition to following DPH and CDC guidelines, spokeswoman Jen Rini said the department “ is working every day to adapt and respond to the coronavirus in the best interest and safety of our staff and youth. We are building on already established infectious disease precautions, such as for influenza mitigation …”

The Division of Youth and Rehabilitative Services allocated an additional $20,000 to add more gowns, gloves, masks and thermometers. Ordering cleaning supplies continues.

“Screening protocols are in place for our employees and youth to monitor coronavirus risk factors, and personal protective equipment is readily available if it is needed,” Ms. Rini said.

According to the division, ongoing protocols include:

• Hand washing sinks and hand sanitizer pumps are already strategically placed throughout facilities, and there is signage throughout encouraging prevention strategies like hand washing and avoiding touching your face.

• Cleaning is ongoing and precautions include frequently washing bed linens, wiping down keys and radio equipment with Lysol and cleaning door handles and tables when youth move from one area to another.

• Janitorial staff are working 10 additional hours per week to do extra cleaning. The youth division contracts with Goodwill Industries and Mid-Atlantic Services and is pursuing the feasibility of additional cleaning staff as added support.

Also, division nurses are educating staff and residents on symptoms and preventive measures.

All youth court bail hearings are held via video and youth can connect with families via phone and video calls.

Online services and more

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control offices are open, though many services are now conducted online to avoid direct personal contact.

“We have canceled or postponed gatherings that would bring in the public for programs, trainings, conferences, volunteer activities and special events,” spokeswoman Nikki Lavoie said.

“In parks and wildlife areas, we have waived admission fees to maintain outdoor areas as a place for the public to spend time.”

On Tuesday, DNREC announced operational changes online at news.delaware.gov.

Increased cleaning at state-owned offices, leased offices, state parks and wildlife area are is ongoing with staff, state- and landlord-contracted companies, DNREC said.

According to Ms. Lavoie, operations are targeting “areas used by the public and ‘touch points’ such as door handles and counters,” she said.

Some parks and wildlife area facilities (offices and nature centers) are closed “but for those that are open like bathrooms and bathhouses, cleaning has certainly increased as well,” Ms. Lavoie said.

Cabins and cottages are still open, but staff takes a day between rentals to “thoroughly clean them, rather than try to turn them around in a few hours,” Ms. Lavoie said.

“The cost impact of all these changes cannot be quantified at this time.”


Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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