Facilities & Transportation
To provide a clean and safe atmosphere for our students, faculty and staff, Cornell uses Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants and industry best practices, posts signage on public health requirements, and has implemented other controls to combat the spread of SARS-CoV-2. We continue to monitor the EPA, CDC, NYS DOH and public health organizations for best practices and updated regulations related to the virus.
Products & Procedures
How long is SARS-CoV-2 viable on surfaces?
Current literature indicates that the virus can be detected:
- For up to three hours on tissue or printing paper.
- For up to four hours on copper surfaces.
- For up to 24 hours on cardboard surfaces.
- For up to two days on wood or cloth*.
- For up to four days on banknotes or glass.
- For up to seven days on plastic or stainless steel.
*The article does not discuss what the cloth is, and composition — material or weight — may play a role.
- Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1
- Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions
- Modeling the stability of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on skin, currency, and clothing.
- Contamination of inert surfaces by SARS-CoV-2: persistence, stability, and infectivity. A review.
What is the recommended practice for disinfecting surfaces?
When using an EPA-registered disinfectant from List N, follow the label directions for safe, effective use. Check "use sites" and "surface types" to see where you can use the product. Read the "precautionary statements." Wash the surface with soap and water if the directions mention pre-cleaning or if the surface is visibly dirty. Wear gloves when applying disinfectant and follow the dwell time (contact time), which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet, to ensure the product is effective. Discard disposable gloves after each cleaning and wash hands after removing gloves.
What hand sanitizers are unsafe for use and have been recalled by the Food and Drug Administration?
Hand sanitizers that contain methanol (aka wood alcohol) are unsafe for use due to its toxic effects when absorbed through the skin or ingested. Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. There are no hand sanitizers approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so do not use products that are fraudulently marketed as “FDA-approved.” A list of hand sanitizers that have been tested and known to contain methanol, labeled to contain methanol, or recalled by the manufacturer or distributor can be found on the FDA website.
Centrally procured products are being vetted prior to purchase; however, if you find a recalled product in your facility, discontinue use immediately and dispose of the product in the trash. If you have a large volume of stock contact EHS at AskEHS@cornell.edu.
How is the university cleaning and disinfecting buildings across campus?
To provide a clean and safe atmosphere for our students, faculty and staff, Cornell Building Care staff uses only Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectants and industry best practices on an ongoing daily basis in our buildings. We also monitor the EPA, CDC and public health organizations and follow any new cleaning recommendations they have related to the virus.
We have enhanced our cleaning regimen whereby high touch point areas, such as door handles, light switches, and tables, are disinfected twice a day. Cleaning is performed using a cleaning agent approved by the EPA to kill SARS-COV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. There are also dedicated isolation and quarantine rooms on campus with a small, dedicated team of staff that are fully trained to clean and disinfect these rooms after any use, along with following CDC protocols to ensure that all materials that leave these areas are properly disposed of without endangering the welfare of others.
How will the university clean and disinfect an area exposed to COVID-19?
Category 3 Cleaning Protocol is activated upon notification from EHS or the Office of Emergency Management to Cornell Building Care that a case of COVID- 19 has been confirmed for a Cornell employee, student or contractor who performs work in a Cornell-owned or leased facility or space. If the space has not been occupied for 24 hours or more, disinfection actions by Building Care are not required, based on virus stability, and will not be performed.
How can I disinfect my workplace?
The university has implemented an enhanced cleaning frequency to clean and disinfect common areas and commonly touched surfaces in Cornell buildings; they are being cleaned at least once daily, five days a week by our custodial staff. Please assist us in maintaining a healthy environment by cleaning objects in your personal and shared workspaces throughout the day. Surfaces to clean include door handles and knobs, keyboards/mice, monitors, desktops, remotes, light switches, desk and cellphones, shared workstations, chair arms, etc.
- Use EPA-approved List N cleaning products (such as Lysol and Clorox wipes). Read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning products.
- Where surfaces are visibly dirty, clean with soap and water prior to disinfection.
- After cleaning, dispose of used cleaning materials, and immediately wash hands.
- Discard items used for cleaning, such as disposable towels, in trash cans.
- Disinfect frequently, at a minimum daily.
How can we promote effective handwashing in labs and offices?
Wash hands before eating, after using the restroom, after coughing or sneezing, after touching an item or surface that may be frequently touched, and before touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Additional hand washing guidance, including posters to promote effective handwashing, is available on the CDC website.
How do I request, or report a problem with, a hand sanitizer station?
Does the university need to take any actions regarding building ventilation systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Getting vaccinated is the most important things that individuals can do to slow the spread of COVID-19. Having an increased numbers of vaccinated individuals places less reliance on ventilation since there is less potential for the accumulation of airborne infections materials that must be captured. For those not fully vaccinated, the requirement to wear a mask indoors and participate in routine COVID-19 surveillance remains in effect.
While there is less reliance on ventilation, the university continues to operate ventilation systems with extended flush out periods at the beginning and end of workdays to increase fresh air. The university also continues to maintain enhanced filtration within compatible air systems. Building occupants in naturally ventilated spaces can open operable windows to increase fresh air when conditions allow. All campus community members are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to stay home if experiencing any symptoms.
Can COVID-19 be transmitted through HVAC (ventilation) systems?
The risk of spreading SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, through ventilation systems is not clear at this time. However, it is still widely documented that the primary route of transmission is direct person-to-person contact. While airflows within a particular space may help spread disease among people in that space, there is no definitive evidence to date that viable virus has been transmitted through an HVAC system to result in disease transmission to people in other spaces served by the same system.
John A. Lednicky, Michael Lauzardo, Z. Hugh Fan, Antarpreet Jutla, Et. Al., Viable SARS-CoV-2 in the air of a hospital room with COVID-19 patients, International Journal of Infectious Diseases, Volume 100, 2020, Pages 476-482, ISSN 1201-9712, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijid.2020.09.025.
My space has an operable window. What are the best ways to utilize the window to increase fresh air?
Building occupants in naturally ventilated spaces have the option to open operable windows to increase fresh air, and many of our buildings rely on this natural ventilation to provide fresh air. As the occupant of this space, you have control over your window and your natural ventilation. You can open your window at varying degrees to provide different amounts of fresh air. Even a slightly open window can introduce beneficial outdoor fresh air. Please remember to close and lock your window when you leave and anytime there are freezing temperatures or bad weather. If your building is mechanically ventilated, opening windows is not necessary. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling, triggering asthma symptoms) to occupants in the building.
Who can I ask about classroom setup, building signage or water and ventilation?
Contact your facility's Building Coordinator. If you don't know the coordinator for your building, visit the Facilities website and search for the building name, then click on "Building Coordinators."
Is the Campus-to-Campus bus in operation?
C2C will resume operations on August 6, 2021, with a reduced-frequency daily service limited to members of the Cornell University community. A CU NetID must be used at the time of booking, and an ID must be presented when boarding. Visit c2cbus.com for further service updates and notifications.
Will there be any changes to the TCAT schedule?
Find the most up-to-date information on service, routes and holiday scheduling changes on the TCAT website.
How often are TCAT buses cleaned and disinfected?
TCAT is taking as many precautions as possible to protect its riders and employees during the pandemic, and has provided details about their procedures on their COVID-19 webpage.